What are dental Implants and what is Involved?

Dental implants offer patients with missing teeth an excellent alternative to dentures or bridgework. A dental implant surgery replaces tooth roots with metal (titanium) screws positioned in the jawbone and provides a secure post to anchor artificial teeth on to that both look and function as real ones.

Additionally, dental implants improve oral comfort and speech in a way that traditional dentures do not and patients often comment about how much their confidence improves after implant surgery.

Dental implants allow for the replacement of multiple teeth without affecting any adjacent structures and can be used to support a bridge and eliminate the need for removable partial dentures.

Implants can help preserve the integrity of your mouth and face by supporting gum, cheeks, lips and jawbone structures.

How is an Implant Procedure Carried Out?

Firstly, your dentist will thoroughly evaluate you and your particular situation to determine the best technique to achieve your desired result – this will include assessing your bone density to ensure the treatment will be successful and an implant can be placed securely.

Once suitability is established, the implant (the screw-like part which replaces the tooth root), is placed into your jaw bone and over the following 3 months left to allow it to ‘’fuse’’ creating a strong anchor for your new tooth. During this time you will be able to have a temporary tooth placed over the implant site (as a bridge or denture).

Occasionally, a second step is necessary which involves uncovering the implant and attaching a ‘’healing cap’’. This temporary cap completes the foundation on which your new tooth will be placed.

Finally, a replacement tooth called a “crown” is created for you by your dentist and attached to a small metal or ceramic post, called an “abutment”. The tooth is then attached to the post via the implant and at this point will look feel and function like a new natural tooth.

How long will my Results Last?

Because the titanium in the implants fuses with your own jawbone your implants won’t slip, make noise or cause bone damage the way that fixed bridgework or dentures can. The materials used in dental implant surgery can’t decay like your own teeth so providing you continue with your regular dental check-ups and hygiene visits to look after your smile implants should last for many many years.

Am I a suitable candidate for this treatment?

Dental Implants are suitable for people of all ages who desire a permanent solution to missing teeth who no longer want to wear dentures or use a temporary fixture. There is no upper age limit either providing you are committed to maintaining healthy teeth and gums and you have the required amount of healthy bone present in your jaw. However, if you do not have enough healthy bone, this does not contraindicate an implant treatment as it is possible to rebuild the bone in your jaw.

Are there any risks or side effects to consider?

Side effects following Implant surgery are usually minimal and any discomfort can be managed well with regular over the counter pain relief, however if pain doesn’t improve after around five days you should contact your dentist for some further advice. Do bear in mind that it takes between three and six months to completely heal following implant surgery. While pain and swelling are common after surgery, do keep an eye out for complications that may develop such as; Infection, allergic reaction or movement

What aftercare is required?

Practice excellent oral hygiene. Just as with your natural teeth, keep implants, artificial teeth and gum tissue clean. Specially designed brushes, such as an interdental brush which slide between teeth can help to clean the nooks and crannies around teeth, gums and metal posts.

Visit your dentist regularly – Implant patients are advised 4 dental check-ups per year so make sure you are scheduling your appointments correctly to ensure the health and longevity of your implants.

Avoid damaging habits such as chewing down on hard items which can crack or break crowns (and natural teeth). Also, avoid staining products such as cigarettes, coffee and red wine and ensure you ask your dentist for some advice if you grind your teeth.