Dental implants procedure information
Over the last 2-3 decades dental implants have changed the face of dentistry. Losing a tooth can be both painful, embarrassing and difficult, and can also affect your confidence especially if it is one of the front teeth. There is no need to worry about a broken or missing tooth anymore. You can improve the function and appearance of the tooth with dental implants.
Dental implants procedure information
What is it? There are various options to replace a missing tooth including dentures, bridgework or titanium implants. Implants are small titanium screws which are fixed to the jawbone and act in place of the root of a tooth. A designed tooth is then permanently affixed to the titanium screw allowing the client to treat the tooth as if it were an original tooth. These implants appear very similar to the actual root of the teeth, which is why they function very similarly and closest to our natural teeth.
Why is it done? This restores the ability to chew and smile. Dental implants are used for several purposes, for example to support dental crowns, dentures and support bridges. They are also helpful for increasing the stability of complete upper and lower dentures. They can also be used to replace one or more teeth or to fill the gaps due to missing teeth. Dental implants can also help in your speaking ability. They work much better than removable dentures. Sometimes even improves the appearance of wrinkles by the addition of teeth which makes the mouth fuller.
A bridge is where the teeth either side of a gap are used to support a replacement tooth.
The teeth that support a bridge must be healthy, as they are taking on the extra work of supporting another tooth. There are many different types of bridges, below are two of the main techniques used:
1. Resin-retained/Resin-bonded (sometimes also incorrectly referred to as Maryland bridges)
This is where a porcelain (replacement) tooth is made in the laboratory with a metal wing attached. The metal wing is then stuck to the tooth next to the gap (supporting tooth), holding the new tooth in place. These are excellent, as little is done to the supporting tooth thereby preserving precious healthy tooth substance. They can come off after some time (years), but if this happens they can either be re-cemented or a new one can be made –nothing has been lost!
2. Conventional Bridge
This is where the 2 teeth either side of a gap (supporting teeth) are shaved down in almost exactly the same way as for crowns. An impression is then taken, which is sent to the laboratory. The laboratory make a bridge consisting of 3 crowns joined together, which the dentist then glues (cements/bonds) on.
The conventional bridge above is a 3 unit bridge. One unit is counted as either one replacement tooth or one supporting tooth. Some bridges involve up to 6 units or more all joined together.
However, this type of bridge is destructive to tooth substance and if it fails you may lose the supporting teeth as well! Also note, as several biting teeth are affected it is important that the patient bites together correctly once the bridge is fitted, otherwise it can be uncomfortable.
Dental implants are the best way of replacing either one or many missing teeth. They are the closest thing to what nature gave us in the first place and you may even forget that they are there! If you have unsightly gaps or even a loose denture; dental implants may help you.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
1) No drilling into next door teeth.
2) 30 years of research to show longevity.
3) Reduce forces on next door teeth and so increase their lifespan.
4) Maintain facial profile.
What is a dental implant?
You need to think of a dental implant as a biological wall plug. Rather like with a normal wall plug you can screw things into it or hang off it. A dental implant is placed into bone and then you can plug artificial of teeth into it.
How am I assessed for dental implants?
We would check the health of the whole mouth: teeth, gums, bite and aesthetics. We would check the amount of bone with x-rays or a CT scan. An accurate diagnosis must be made and the proper implant placement and procedure must be selected for the individual patient.
Is age a deterrent?
No! Health is the determining factor. Many seventy and eighty year olds are a better surgical risk than someone years younger with poor general health. Older individuals are more likely to need implants because they have lost more teeth, and have lost more supporting ridges.
Can I replace dentures with implants?
Yes, if you have loose dentures; having dental implants will be a particularly life changing course of treatment. My clients often comment that they can now eat whatever they want with confidence.
What does the actual process involve?
At our clinic, you will be evaluated first for an assessment of your problem. If it is decided that you need a dental implant, you will then be checked for your overall health. If you are in poor health and/or have any ailments that will cause slow recovery, then dental implants may not be the best solution. Our expert team, along with your input, will come up with an individually tailored plan for your treatment.
The first phase is to place the implant into the bone. The implant made of titanium is placed into the socket of the bone of the tooth missing. Once the implant has osseointegrated (gelled) in with the jawbone, a connector is attached to the implant which helps in securely holding the new tooth. This connector is called the abutment.
The implant is then exposed after 3-6 months and checked to see whether it has formed a union with bone. If it has then procedures are undertaken to construct the new tooth. The new tooth (called the crown) is then attached to the abutment. These 2 phases of treatment take 5-6 visits altogether.
What does osseointegration mean?
In the 1960’s it was discovered that titanium can form a direct contact with bone such that it has formed a union; there is no non bone tissue between the titanium and bone. Surgeons have used this amazing discovery to replace many body parts including ears and eyes!
Are all implants successful?
There are many variables to be considered in placing an implant. The patient must be healthy. There must be adequate healing powers present in the patient. For example, if the patient is an uncontrolled diabetic, inconsistent healing could complicate the procedure. If such a condition develops at a later date after the implant(s) has been done, this too may complicate the future of the implant(s).
If the patient is a heavy smoker or an excessive alcoholic beverage consumer, the success of the implant(s) will be affected.
Will implants last a lifetime?
Some implants have been in the mouth for over thirty years. The average expectancy is based upon numerous variables, such as the patient’s health and proper maintenance.
Are dental implants used for cosmetic purposes?
Dental implants are not usually inserted for cosmetic purposes. The primary objective of dental implants is to give additional support to replacement teeth. Cosmetic enhancement is possible with replacement teeth; however your expectations should be fully discussed prior to treatment.
Does the body reject implants?
Implants are made of biologically compatible materials that have undergone extensive testing over a period of many years. Since these materials are metals, such as titanium, which have never been living tissue, there is no likelihood of causing an antigen-antibody response, which could cause rejection similar to that, which sometimes occurs with heart and kidney transplants. Rarely, however implants can fail to integrate into the bone and the body’s immune response is to loosen the implant.
Is there a guarantee?
There is no way that we can guarantee anything which goes in the mouth and which is under the control of the individual patient. Similarly doctors do not tell their patients that the transplanted heart, kidney, or coronary bypass will keep them alive for any specified period of time. We can only tell you that we will strive to help you care for your implant(s) at home, and will be available for regular periodic follow-up appointments to evaluate your continued dental health. We will do everything we can to make the implant(s) succeed, but you will have to make the same commitment. Rarely an implant may not integrate with bone. If this happens then it can be easily removed, and if enough bone is present, then replaced.
For your peace of mind the implant system that I use includes a free warranty to ensures total peace of mind.
Is it expensive?
Implant procedures, which vary in complexity and extent depending on the patient’s dental condition and requirements, can involve a significant investment. In the long term it is actually more cost effective to have implant treatment rather than bridge work. I often have comments from my clients that it is the best dental investment that they have ever made.
Will insurance pay for implants?
Some dental procedures, implant surgeries, and portions of implants are covered by dental and medical insurance policies. Always check with the insurance company in writing.
Will there be discomfort?
Just as with any surgery, there can be some pain. However, anaesthetics and sedation virtually eliminate discomfort during the surgery. Post-operative pain will be similar to that of having teeth removed. Patients will be provided with medication to alleviate this discomfort.
How much time does it take?
It depends on your condition and needs, and the extent of the work involved. Individual operations may take from one half-hour to several hours. There may be as few one operation, or a series of operations and follow-up visits, which would be scheduled over a period of months to ensure proper healing.
Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
There is a certain minimum amount of bone that we can place implants into. If we do not have enough bone then we can add bone to the deficient area, or use special techniques to expand the existing area. If we need to graft bone then we need to wait 3-12 months before implants can be placed.
Sometimes we need to take a 3D CT scan to assess the amount of bone and position of vital structures such as the maxillary sinus (a bone cavity in the cheek area) or the position of nerves when planning treatment.
Are implant teeth difficult to clean?
No. You will be shown how to keep them clean; this would ensure the best long term success.
Can I take the teeth out if attached to implants?
Only with certain types of dentures. If the denture is attached to magnets or bars on the implants then they may be removed.
Do I have one implant per missing tooth?
No, unless replacing one tooth of course. In general one implant can replace 2 missing teeth. So, to replace all of missing upper or lower teeth would require 5 or 6 implants.
Our practice is open for all your questions and we will help you through the whole process from the first consultation to the follow ups after the dental implant treatment. From tips on how to manage and care for the implant as well as the crown, we will guide you through the procedure and the process. So sit back and enjoy your new found confidence. Smile and enjoy your food once more!