What are dental implants?
Dental implants are an innovative form of dental treatment where missing teeth are replaced with a permanent tooth or teeth that look and feel almost like natural teeth. Implants effectively give you a third set of teeth as they are permanent, aesthetically superb and allow you to smile, talk and eat with confidence. They may be used to replace a whole arch or missing teeth or to replace a single tooth thereby avoiding the cutting sound of adjacent teeth to provide conventional bridges.
The implant itself is a small titanium post that is surgically placed into the jaw. Once it has become integrated into the bone, it acts as a replacement root to support a crown or bridge or to give stability to loose dentures. Dental implants replace teeth. They usually comprise three parts:
- A replacement root-known as the fixture. This is a small titanium screw that is carefully and precisely placed in the appropriate place as determined by the planning stage.
- A post that screws or press fits into the fixture. This is known as the abutment.
- A crown that looks like a tooth that fits on top of the post.
They are ideal where a single tooth has been lost as they avoid the need for either a denture or the cutting involved in a bridge. If two teeth are missing, two implants are usually advisable. But, if three are missing, then two implants and a three unit bridge is quite often sufficient. Whereas a natural tooth is susceptible to decay if the bridge comes loose, a feature of an implant is that they cannot decay. Not all natural teeth need replacement and a whole arch can be restored with just four implants. Individual circumstances affect the decision and all implant procedures need very carefully planning. Dental implants offer the most natural replacement for missing teeth. Ideally an implant should be placed within 6-9 months after an extraction as bone ‘melts away’ or resorbs after roots have been extracted. An accident may cause the loss of a front tooth. Rather than cutting adjacent sound teeth to provide a bridge (as was once common), a preferable replacement is a dental implant (or an adhesive Maryland bridge). Many people associate the loss of a tooth with getting older and request a replacement that is as close as possible to their original tooth rather than a gap or bridge or denture. Other people have been missing teeth for many years and have, as a result lost self-confidence particularly if a poor denture has been used as a replacement. For these situations, dental implants have become a major break through to improve function, aesthetics and confidence. Well placed implants offer a totally new lease of life. The ability to eat, speak, and function normally is so much improved. People report that they feel less ‘old’ and that having the gap closed is a confidence booster. –
What is involved – Planning?
The planning stages of implant treatments are extremely important and may involve a number of visits for record taking, assessments of bone quality and amount of available bone. A diagnostic wax up of the intended final restoration is usual so that the procedure is planned backwards with the intended outcome in sight. It may be necessary to request a CT scan to carefully assess the proximity of anatomical sites when bone availability is reduced. Where there is insufficient bone volume present, bone grafting or sinus augmentation (grafting) techniques may need to be considered.
What is the Outcome?
Initially patients report that their new implants feel slightly different from natural teeth but that they soon become accustomed to them. All the patients are absolutely delighted with the freedom and improved lifestyle they enjoy after having had implants placed and frequently say it was the best thing they ever did. It truly is a life changing experience!
What aftercare is required?
All patients who have had implants are advised to seek regular maintenance with a hygienist and annual review with either the provider of the implants or a dentist who is familiar with implant assessments.
We do not currently do Implants at Hopvine House, however we do have practices that we can refer you to, please ask.