Dental implants are normally used to treat 2 groups of people:
- People with missing or failing teeth
- People with loose or unstable dentures
In both cases, the outcome is the same, implants restore your ability to smile, eat, chew and laugh again with confidence. Many patients also find that their dignity is restored and their ‘dental comfort’ is massively improved.
The dental implant procedure
The implant procedure depends upon Your own clinical situation which can only be assessed on a one-to-one personal basis, what follows is a guide to dental implants for people with missing teeth without dentures and people with missing teeth with dentures.
Dental implants to replace single or multiple teeth WITHOUT dentures
In simple terms, dental implants are precision made titanium tooth roots. An extension called an abutment is then secured to the implant and a custom made crown placed over it to match the colour and contours of existing teeth.
More information about the use of Titanium in dentistry can be found here.
This well-established treatment is long lasting and safe and has been shown to have success rates of more than 95% over a fifteen year period.
If you have more than one tooth missing, then we will often place 2 (or even more implants) and ‘bridge’ the gaps.
The custom made crowns that fit over the top of implants ensure that you will not see any metal and will be made to blend into your surrounding teeth invisibly… no-one will ever know you ever had teeth missing.
If you have all your teeth missing then you will either need a denture, or a ‘full arch implant supported bridge’, dentures are explained below, but a full arch bridge will usually involve the placement of around 4-6 dental implants (it depends on your exact situation as to how many you will need).
Screwed gently to these implants will be a full new set of teeth which you are not able to remove yourself (Your dentist can remove them for deep dental cleaning periodically).
This is often the preferred option for patients with no remaining teeth as often a full arch bridge can be made to look exactly like your own teeth.
In some instances, your dentist may find that additional surgical treatments such as bone augmentation are required. These are explained later on in this guide, but only a full clinical assessment by your dentist will tell for sure.
Dental implants to replace multiple teeth WITH dentures
If you currently have dentures and find that they are loose, then dental implants can help enormously. Your dentist will simply place 2 or 4 implants gently into your mouth, then place some ‘clips’ inside the denture (like a press-stud), this means you will hear an audible click as your denture locks into place.
Depending on your exact situation they may decide that making a new denture is best for you, or they may even be able to convert your existing denture.
So if you wear dentures and feel you are not able to go out for a great meal with your friends then this could be a perfect solution for you.
Dental Implants – Frequently asked questions and answers
Am I suitable for a dental implant?
If you are missing one or more teeth due to trauma, tooth decay or gum disease, then you may be a candidate for a dental implant. Your dentist will be able to discuss your individual clinical situation.
Dental implants will allow you to smile, speak, and eat with confidence and comfort.
If you have a tooth (or teeth) which is badly affected by decay or gum disease or has broken beyond the point of repair, a dental implant may be the alternative and it is wise to make this decision before a tooth is extracted as sometimes an implant can be placed straight in at the same time.
This is known as in immediate dental implant placement, more information on this technique can be found here.
Sometimes, if you are facing extensive dentistry to try and ‘save’ your remaining teeth, implants are worth considering as an alternative.
For surgery you should be of good health and the remainder of your teeth will need to be healthy and free from tooth decay or gum disease. Other conditions will need to be treated before surgery.
Also, there needs to be enough bone in the jaw, so your dentist may need to check for bone density using a CT scan. There are bone augmentation techniques and different types of implants available for borderline patients. Some patients who have previously been told that they don’t have enough bone can now have treatment with a special type of implant called a zygomatic implant
Should I have a dental implant?
Losing one or more of your teeth starts a chain of events that can have physical and cosmetic consequences. The most obvious result is a gap in your smile. Less obvious is the loss of chewing function and the inability to eat a complete diet that can result from tooth loss. While these are certainly serious issues, a potentially bigger problem lies hidden beneath the surface: bone loss.
Your jawbone needs the chewing action of the teeth to stimulate it and keep it strong. Otherwise, it will begin to disappear (atrophy) in the same manner that the unused muscles beneath a cast supporting a broken bone gets smaller.
Without the support of your teeth and facial bones, your face may begin to look prematurely aged. The good news is that tooth replacement with dental implants offers a solution to help prevent bone loss.
Is a dental implant ever rejected by the body?
The implant is machined from surgical-grade titanium alloy (Ti 6Al-4V), which is a biocompatible material. However, there is a very small chance that it will not integrate with bone. If this were to occur, the implant would be replaced with another one. It is highly unlikely that the second implant would not integrate.
Can I have a dental implant if I smoke?
Smoking can inhibit proper healing of an implant. However, this does not prevent smokers from having implants successfully placed and restored. However, the implant can be more likely to fail in a smoking patient than a non-smoking patient. You should speak with your dentist for more specific information relating to your dental needs and the effects of smoking.
Do dental implants hurt?
This is usually mild to minimal. While undergoing treatment, you will receive local anaesthesia. You may have mild post-surgical soreness for a few days. An over-the-counter pain reliever will alleviate the discomfort for most patients.
How long is the dental implant procedure?
A single dental implant placement is usually completed in an hour or so with local anaesthesia.
Traditionally, the implant is then allowed to heal with the bone, this usually takes 8 to 12 weeks in the lower jaw and 12 to 16 weeks in the upper jaw. During this time a ‘temporary’ tooth can be provided to fill the space or a temporary bridge or denture depending on how many teeth you have missing.
Once you have been given the all clear you can then have your crown, bridge or denture made and fitted.
If you have poor quality bone and bone augmentation procedures are necessary, the overall process can take up to 12 months or more. We will determine which surgical procedure is best for you.
How to look after a dental implant
Ironically, dental implants can require less maintenance than a natural tooth. Simply brush and floss as though it were a natural tooth. Remember, regular visits to the dentists and hygienists are required for long-term health and success of the implanted teeth and your natural teeth.
How long does a dental implant last?
If your body accepts the implant, it should last many years if cared for properly. Many implants have been in place for more than 40 years.