How is a dental implant placed?
An implant is a permanent fixture (usually titanium) that is embedded into your jaw. This procedure is usually performed in-clinic, although if the patient prefers surgery, it can also be completed in a hospital setting as an out-patient procedure. Implants are generally a three-step journey and, depending on your case, the final step can go one of two ways. For single tooth replacements, your implant will have a full crown placed over it, and for multiple missing teeth, a bridge will be placed.
The implant is surgically buried flush with the bone, under the gum. This protects the implant from any force as it heals.
At the end of this healing process, some of the overlying gum is then removed to expose the implant. At this stage, we will check the implant to make sure integration was successful, and an abutment is placed. Abutments are essentially a post in which the crown or bridge will be placed. This is then allowed to heal so the gum creates a “cuff” or “collar”. Through this, the dentist has access to the implant during the final process of the restoration.
The final step is assessing the healing process, and placing the final enhancement. The final enhancement will either be a crown or a bridge, and will have been discussed with your dentist prior to the treatment commencing.
Why should I have a tooth replaced?
This is possibly the most commonly asked question. After all, your lost tooth hasn’t given you any grief to date, right? So why spend more money on replacing a tooth when it isn’t bothering you? Well, your teeth play more roles in your mouth than just chewing your food, which is why it’s important to have missing teeth replaced. The majority of the damage caused by losing a tooth happens under the surface. Replacing a tooth isn’t so much about the tooth as it is about preserving the bone.
Your teeth make brief contact with each other hundreds of times a day: when you chew, talk, drink etc. These fleeting moments of contact provide stimulation to the jaw and alveolar bone, enabling these bones to maintain their density. This stimulation also enables the bone to remodel and rebuild. If a tooth is lost, it not only negatively impacts the position which has been left vacant, it also affects the tooth (and effectively the bone) opposite as it has essentially lost its “partner”. This loss of stimulation causes a 25% decrease in bone width during the first year, and an overall decrease of 4mm in height over the following years. Eventually, chewing ability and speech may be impaired, with the cheeks hollowing out. Overall, while having a piece of titanium implanted into the bone seems a bit daunting, the future health benefits far outweigh ignoring the issue.
Dental Implants FAQs
What are the advantages of dental implants?
- Dental implants can improve your smile and your basic mouth functions
- Implants are permanent
- They are fixed and replace the need for a removable denture
- You can replace one or more of your teeth
- It reduces the risk of bone, tooth loss and gum disease
- They look like your natural teeth
- Almost immediate results
- You can brush, floss, eat, drink and sleep with your dental implants.
Who can get dental implants?
While most people are good candidates for dental implants, your gums and jawbone structure have to be strong and healthy for the procedure. However, people who suffer from a chronic illness like heart disease or diabetes may not be good candidates for the procedure and other options can be made available during a consultation.
Will dental implants work for me?
Dental implants have the ability to improve the smile and oral health of any patient who is missing one or many teeth whether that may be caused by general tooth decay, trauma or gum disease. When deciding who is a suitable candidate for dental implants, the number one factor is whether or not you have the requisite amount of healthy bone in order to support your implants. Dental implants can replace your teeth in almost every way and secure your oral health for many years to come as a permanent solution for tooth loss.
How much do dental implants cost?
Taking the decision to replace missing, heavily decayed or diseased teeth is one that can change your life. What price can you put on being able to chew your favourite foods or to smile without your missing teeth? Dental implants, if taken care of, will last you the rest of your life and are made from some of the most sophisticated materials around. Everyone’s situation is totally unique, and some patients may require more extensive work than others, but whatever the cost of your dental implant treatment, it can be well worth it.
How will dental implants affect my life?
Dental implants won’t just change your smile, they will change your life. Anyone who has ever lost a tooth or many teeth, will attest to just how painful and frustrating it can be to chew a number of foods that are vital to your nutrition and a healthy diet. Dental implants can also transform your oral health and prevent the onset of the early signs of ageing associated with tooth loss.
What does the dental implant procedure involve?
Every good procedure begins with a consultation. We would first have to do an examination of your mouth and take an x-ray of the area. This is to ensure that dental implants are the best choice for you. On average, the procedure should take about three or four visits to our practice with your second visit being to place the implant in your mouth while you are given a local anaesthetic to numb the area. We will have to wait for about three months for the wound to heal before we fit in the prosthetic teeth over the implant.
I’ve lost a tooth. What can I do?
If you’ve lost an adult tooth or had your tooth knocked out, don’t stress. Call your dentist to arrange an emergency appointment, as it may be able to be saved.
Pick your tooth up carefully by the crown of the tooth, avoid touching the root as you may cause damage to the fragile root system. If the tooth is dirty you can clean it either using your saliva or milk; the proteins that are found in milk will help to preserve your tooth. You should transport your tooth either in your mouth or in a cup of milk, do not try to place the tooth back in the socket as you may damage the root system.
Why should I replace a missing tooth?
Replacing a tooth is not just for aesthetic appeal: your teeth play a larger role in your oral health and maintenance than just chewing your food.
Your teeth help to preserve the structure of your mouth; they make contact with each other briefly hundreds of times a day. This contact helps maintain the health of the jawbone, as well as promotes blood flow. Once your tooth is lost you no longer gain this stimulation and your jaw line begins to deteriorate — this is why you may observe cheeks with a “hollowed out” appearance in the elderly or those with missing teeth.
By not replacing a missing tooth, you are not only sacrificing the health of the jaw where the tooth no longer sits, you are also sacrificing the health of the tooth above. Your teeth are like partners —they rely on the adjacent tooth to help promote growth and health around them. Lost teeth can also affect your ability to chew food and may lead to speech impediments.