Are you reluctant to smile for any of the following reasons:
missing one or more teeth?
experience pain or discomfort when chewing or biting?
dentures no longer fit?
Then dental implants may be a realistic option for you and may help you to smile with confidence again.
A dental implant is an artificial prosthetic, normally a titanium screw, that is used to replace the root of a tooth and to support a dental restoration such as a crown, bridge or denture. Implants may be used to replace one, some or all teeth. Planning for implants is an involved process but can achieve success rates in excess of 90% and a lifetime of more than 20 years. Key factors in the success of an implant procedure are the health and quality of existing bone, periodontal condition and occlusion (how the opposing teeth come together).
Implants are not recommended for patients under the age of 18 as placement of dental implants is best undertaken after growth has stopped and maturation of bone has been achieved.
Apart from the factors mentioned earlier, a patient's medical history, existing medical conditions and state of surrounding teeth will influence suitability for implant placement. Some preparatory dental treatment such as bone augmentation and/or periodontal treatment may be required before a patient can be considered ready for a dental implant. The elapsed time between initial assessment and having a restoration placed on an implant may take from several months to more than a year. The typical procedure involves placing one or more implants in a dental surgery under asceptic (sterile) conditions, caping the implant(s) with a healing abutment and suturing the gum over the abutment. After a suitable healing period, a temporary restoration is placed over the abutment to protect it and also to stop surrounding teeth from moving to fill in the gap. A period of three to six months is typically required to permit the implant to anchor to the bone in a process known as osseointegration. A second appointment is required where the abutment is then removed and a restoration, eg crown, is placed permanently on the implant.
The surgery for placing the implant may take from just over an hour to several hours depending on the number of implants being placed. The patient may experience some discomfort for a few days after the dental implant insertion but no pain. In some cases the implant is inserted into the bone and a restoration is placed permanenly straightaway in a procedure called immediate loading.