Understanding Dental Implants

Dental implants are artificial teeth “roots” that are inserted into the jawbone to replace missing  teeth.  Dental Implants and their attached crowns closely mimic the look and function of real teeth.  They are an attractive and comfortable alternative to dentures and bridges.

Background

Dental treatment for a decaying tooth starts with filling up a cavity. It may later on progress to a Root Canal treatment. If the dental decay has significantly progressed and the tooth cannot be saved, it is extracted.

A lost tooth may cause difficulty chewing, it may alter the appearance of the smile, and also alter the bite.

 Hence, an implant can considerably improve the quality of life, one’s confidence, and a “normal” mouth.

A Dental implant consists of 2 components, namely,

a)  The metallic “root substitute” or dental implant body, and

b) The implant crown.

The dental implant body is surgically inserted in the jawbone in place of the missing tooth’s root. The dental implant- crown is then usually attached to the implant body by a fixation screw. This procedure is usually done over 2 stages, with time given between these two steps for healing and integration of the implant body with the jaw bone,  known as ‘’osseointegration”.

DENTAL IMPLANT PRODEDURES

There are many different types of implant systems available.  Most implants are made from materials such as titanium, that are capable of forming a strong integration with the surrounding bone tissue. 

The overall implant process can take considerable time.  The procedure can take from three to six months or more, from surgical placement of the implant body, to the fitting of the crown.  This depends on factors, such as the amount of bone present, the need for any artificial bone placement, and the degree of integration between the implant and the bone.

TREATMENT FOR OTHER DENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

The mouth should be overall dentally healthy and “fit” before implant treatment.  People who decide to have a dental implant may have dental issues such as decay or gum disease that contributed to the loss of their natural teeth.  These problems should be treated to ensure the ongoing success of the implant.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Whilst well-maintained dental implants are considered to be virtually permanent, you should anticipate regular dental check-ups and maintenance of hygiene to keep your artificial teeth in good order.

Crowns and implants do not always look and feel exactly like your own teeth.  Biting and chewing will feel different and it may take time to get used to the new sensations. 

Your dentist cannot guarantee that the implant surgery will be successful.

A dental implant may have to be replaced.  About one implant in every 20 fails to integrate with the bone or comes loose over time.  The factors that contribute to implant failure include-

  • The bone’s density and strength
  • The Patient’s overall general health, including the ability to heal after surgery.
  • The patient’s commitment to oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Periodontal disease and the overall health of the remainder of the mouth.

BENEFITS

Done properly and with regular care and check ups, dental implants can provide long term benefits.

  • Implants restore the ability to chew
  • They restore cosmetic appearance
  • They keep the jawbone from shrinking due to bone loss
  • They help keep adjacent teeth stable
  • They preserve the health of the surrounding bone and gums
  • They can significantly improve the quality of life.

If you have a missing tooth and are considering an implant and crown, our practice can do a proper assessment to help you make the right choice with confidence.

Among things to consider are

  • Overall health, time taken for healing and how long the implant may stay in place
  • Material, brand and type of implant system
  • Duration of healing may require a temporary abutment to be in place for a few months
  • Regular cleaning and following oral hygiene practices is important for the long term success
  • Regular follow up visits to the dentist
  • Implant failure and need for a follow up surgical procedure

« previous: What is involved during a Root Canal Treatment?

next: All About Teeth Whitening »

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