Dental Implants - Frequently asked questions
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a titanium screw that is surgically anchored into the jaw. This acts like the root of a natural tooth and can be used to support a replacement tooth, fixed bridge or a removable denture. The benefit of using implants is that they don't rely on neighbouring teeth for support and they are permanent and stable. Dental implants are a well established, safe treatment to replace missing teeth.
What are the benefits of implants?
Improved appearance - Implants look and feel like your own teeth and because they are designed to integrate with bone they become permanent.
Easier eating - Implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favourite foods with confidence and without pain.
Improved self esteem - Implants can give you back your smile and help you feel better about yourself
Durability - Implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care and regular maintenance, many implants last a lifetime.
What does it involve?
The first step in the dental implant process is to develop of an individual treatment plan that addresses your needs and the implant options that are best suited to you. A CT scan or 3D x-ray will be needed to establish bone levels for the positioning of the implant.
Next, a small screw made of titanium, is placed into the bone. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted metal post, anchoring it securely and permanently. A temporary crown or denture may be fitted for the duration of the healing process which takes approximately 3 months. Most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anaesthesia is used for the surgical stage, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction.
Once the implant has integrated in the bone, a small connector - called an abutment - is attached to the implant. Usually made of titanium or gold, the abutment connects the implant to the restoration chosen to replace the missing tooth/teeth. Impressions are taken to create a model of your bite (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). The new crown, bridge or denture is based on this model.
The restoration is then screwed onto the implant and the screw hole is covered using a tooth-coloured filling material (composite). Instead of one or more individual crowns, some patients may have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a removable denture.
Is it painful?
As with any other oral surgical procedure there is some associated discomfort. Advice will be given after the procedure and some ‘over the counter’ pain relief may be required. However, most implant patients comment that they were surprised how minimal and short the duration of discomfort was.
How do I care for implants?
Aftercare is important if you are going to have a long-lasting successful implant. Cleaning around the teeth supported by implants is no more difficult than cleaning natural teeth. There may be areas that are difficult to reach but we will advise you how best to clean them. As with natural teeth you will need to attend regularly for a review and maintenance.