Treatments > Implants
What are dental implants?
Implants can be an excellent way of replacing teeth that have been lost. In the past the only ways of replacing missing teeth ware with removable dentures or bridges that involve cutting down the teeth either side of the gap. Now that implants have been developed it is possible to have a permanent replacement for missing teeth that does not involve damaging any other teeth.
An implant is an artificial replacement for a natural tooth root, made from titanium. Once fitted, if regularly maintained and cared for properly an implant can last a lifetime.
Am I suitable for implant treatment?
Before any implant treatment is carried out a full assessment will be carried out to see if you are suitable for implant treatment. Most people who have good general health are suitable for implants. Some medical conditions, smoking and a history of gum problems can reduce the chance of success of implant treatment. In some cases there is not sufficient jaw bone remaining after the teeth have been lost to place implants but techniques are available to restore this bone.
What does the treatment involve?
Assessment and treatment planning:
An initial assessment will be carried out and x-rays will be taken along with photographs and impressions for models to allow for treatment planning. A full discussion of all of the treatment alternative available will take place. A written treatment plan will be provided detailing the sequence of treatment and associated costs.
Implant placement is a relatively minor surgical procedure that is performed under sterile conditions in the dental surgery. The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic and you will be given instructions on how to look after yourself after the procedure. As with any surgery there can be some swelling and discomfort for a few days but many patients are pleasantly surprised but how little discomfort they experience.
Implants can take from six weeks to six months to become permanently fused to the bone. During this integration period, temporary dentures or bridgework can be provided if needed. In some cases, temporary teeth can be fixed to the implants in a process called “immediate loading”.
The restorative phase:
A number of appointments will be needed to take measurements and impressions to make the definitive restorations to fit onto the implants. This can range from a single tooth to a fixed bridge or a removable overdenture that fits over the implants. The restorations are constructed by an experience technician who works closely with the dentist.
What happens if an implant doesn’t work?
The success rate for dental implants is around 95%, which compares very favourably with other forms of treatment. Occasionally an implant fails to fuse to the bone. The risk of this happening is greater if you smoke, have a history of gum disease of suffer from certain systemic diseases. If an implant fails it is often possible to remove the failed implant and place another implant.
Sometimes implants can fail many years after treatment due to a condition called peri-implantitis, which is similar to the gum disease that can develop around natural teeth. Meticulous cleaning around your implants, regular visits to the dentist and hygienist and avoidance of habits such as smoking reduce the risk of this happening.
Andrew Tierney has been placing and restoring Implants since 2001 and obtained a distinction in the Diploma in Implant Dentistry from the Eastman Dental Institute in London in 2011.