Dental implants are metallic cyclinders,
made of titanium, which are surgically placed into the jaw bone where original
teeth once existed. These root like cyclinders are used to secure a replacement
tooth into the area where a tooth or teeth are missing. The implant acts as a
false root which then allows a crown or bridge to be placed on top of the
What are the advantages over conventional replacements?
The conventional methods of replacing missing teeth are crowns, bridges and
Crowns and bridges usually involve sticking false porcelain teeth onto existing
teeth, which generally require filing down to act as retainers. This removal of
large amounts of tooth tissue does compromise the health of these teeth. Whilst
crowns and bridges are considered to be permanent replacements, they are likely
to require replacement every 10-15 years.
Dentures are teeth attached to a plastic or metal plate. They can often be
cumbersome, as they have to be taken out every day for cleaning. They may not
always retain in place well if the shape of the gums and the bone in the mouth
is neither of sufficient quantity or quality.
Though bridges and dentures can serve us satisfactorily, implants provide
better support and generally result in more comfortable and stable replacement
teeth. Implants provide better chewing efficiency and allow us to have
permanent fixed teeth, without having to file down our own natural teeth for
support or having to remove the teeth every day for cleaning. Implants,
importantly also slow down the rate of shrinkage of our jaw bone which occurs
as a result of tooth loss.
Are Dental Implants for Me ?
Many people wonder if dental implants are a solution to their dental problems.
The following questions will help you to decide;
Am I missing at least one tooth?
Do I find the resultant appearance socially inhibiting?
Do I feel I have a problem eating and chewing my food properly?
Am I conscious of my appearance?
Psychologically, do I dislike wearing dentures?
Do my dentures move and feel uncomfortable?
Can I say that I am unable to taste my food properly due to the
Can I say that I am conscious of my speech due to my dentures or missing
Can I say that I feel uncomfortable and lacking in confidence due to my
dentures or missing teeth?
Am I concerned about filing down my own natural teeth to have a bridge
Am I concerned about my crowns and/or bridges which continuously fall
I believe my general lifestyle could be improved by improving my teeth.
If you can answer yes to any of the above, then you may be a candidate for
What is the actual procedure ?
The surgeon places a metal titanium root into your jaw. While the root bonds to
your bone, you are able to wear either temporary crowns, bridges or dentures.
Should a tooth require extraction prior to implant placement, it is often
possible to extract the tooth and place the implant directly into the
extraction socket at the same appointment. The healing process normally takes
between 3 and 6 months, but a temporary prosthesis (crown or bridge) can be
placed immediately onto the implant if required. During this healing phase, the
bone grows onto and fuses with the titanium. This phenomenon is known as
osseointegration and basically means that a strong biological bond develops
between the bone and the implant.
The surgeon attaches an extension onto the metal root to bring it through the
gum. In some of the newer implant systems, the metal titanium root and the
extension come as one piece thus enabling us to combine stages 1 and 2 and
allowing the immediate placement of a temporary crown or bridge.
The surgeon or your own dentist, together with a dental technician then creates
the final restoration.
Proper brushing, flossing and regular check-ups will help you to maintain your
dental implants in perfect condition.
Once a tooth is removed, the bone surrounding the tooth is removed naturally by
the body in a process called resorption. Resorption takes place very quickly in
the first six months and then slows but never stops. The jaws appear over time
to shrink and if left untreated, the loss of bone from the jaw can progress so
far that a denture will not stay in place. This can cause further problems for
implants as too little bone may be left remaining to support an implant. Thus,
if placed immediately at extraction and before any bone resorption has
occurred, the maximum amount of bone and hence the better chance of a good
successful result will be available. This can also provide huge advantages from
a cosmetic point of view.
In some circumstances such as infections, cysts or where insufficient bone is
already present around a tooth due for extraction, an immediate implant may not
On rare occasions, even after careful planning with radiographs and/or scans,
we may find that once the tooth is removed, an immediate implant may not be
possible after all, due to poor remaining bone support or infection. In these
circumstances, the bone must be allowed to heal, either with or without the aid
of a bone graft for a suitable period of time, whilst new healthy bone grows
into the area.
Maintenance – following completion of implant treatment, patients need to clean thoroughly around implants using brushing and flossing in just the same way you would around natural teeth. In some areas, special floss, interdental brushes and other cleaning aid may be needed to maintain good oral hygiene. Cleaning is not at all difficult and will be demonstrated to you. On-going care will be similar to any patient with natural teeth and you simply need to maintain regular check-up appointments with your usual dentist.