Dental implants look, feel and work just like your own teeth. They are a safe and reliable state of the art alternative to dentures and bridges. They allow you to eat, laugh, smile and speak with confidence – no more worries about a denture slipping or a gap showing. So what is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a substitute for a natural tooth root. Typically it is made from titanium and is shaped like a screw . It is inserted into the jawbone and once osseointegtration ( when the bone attaches firmly to the implant) has occurred, a replacement tooth can be secured to the top of the implant. This new tooth can look, feel and perform just like a natural tooth. It is also possible to use multiple implants to support a bridge or overdenture.
- Implant secured or stabilised replacement teeth are more comfortable than conventional dentures because there is no slipping or movement. This eliminates some of the main worries about dentures and improves self confidence.
- Implants are the alternative to bridgework for permanently replacing missing teeth, eliminating the need to grind down healthy teeth.
- When teeth are missing the surrounding bone begins to shrink. Dental implants help to maintain the shape and structure of the jaw bone.
- Look & feel like natural teeth
- Allow you to speak, smile & eat with confidence
- Are comfortable and stay in place
- Do not need other teeth for support.
What is involved in the implant process?
At your initial consultation, after discussing possible alternatives you would normally have radiographs and preliminary study models made. These will be used to carefully plan the case. In some cases a CT scan may be required to accurately give a 3D image of the supporting bone. A written treatment plan is then given outlining the sequence of treatment and cost.
Implant Placement A relatively minor surgical procedure that is normally performed under local anaesthesia in sterile conditions, possibly aided by sedation. If after assessment the underlying bone is found to be deficient, a number of options are available for bone regeneration. This may be carried out at the time of implant placement or at a prior appointment.
A pilot hole is usually drilled to a pre determined depth, and this is then widened to take the appropriate size of implant. The implant is then very slowly and gently inserted into the site. The implant may then be buried and left to integrate or may be used immediately to support a temporary crown. Modern techniques make it possible to place several implants and use them to support an immediate acrylic temporary bridge.
Integration Period Although some implants can be loaded into function immediately, it is often better to suggest that a period of 3 months or more be left to allow the implant to fully integrate before loading. The patient’s own denture or a simple adhesive bridge can be worn during this healing phase.
The Restorative Phase Once integrated, the implants may need to be uncovered and can be used to support whatever type of restoration has been planned. I use a diode laser to uncover buried implants. This has the benefit of being atraumatic and the area heals very quickly with little discomfort. We work very closely with extremely skilled dental technicians who produce the highest quality, beautiful restorations, whether it is a single implant crown or a full arch bridge.
Maintenance Following the completion of implant treatment, patients need to clean thoroughly around the implants as instructed by the dentist or hygienist. They should attend for regular reviews so that the dentist can monitor the health of the soft tissues, bone levels and the integrity of the restoration.
If one tooth is missing?
A single crown on an implant is generally the best way to restore a space and give a natural appearance.
If several teeth are missing?
A bridge or crowns on several implants will restore function and looks.
If all teeth are missing?
A full bridge supported by implants or an over denture retained by implants are the options available to you.