Implants are one way of replacing missing teeth. A post is planted in the jaw bone to support a replacement tooth. This acts like the root of a natural tooth. Implants can also be used to support fixed bridges or dentures. Implant treatment normally has two stages. First, the implant is placed in the jaw. Then, when the jaw has healed, replacement teeth are attached to the implant. In some situations it is possible for temporary teeth to be attached to an implant at the time of fitting.
Dental implant therapy has been around for many years with a proven track record. Improvements in materials and surgical techniques have made dental implants the gold -standard treatment in many instances for the replacement of missing teeth.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant essentially substitutes for a missing tooth root. It is commonly cylindrical or screw-shaped. Each implant is carefully and precisely drilled into the location of the intended tooth and provides a foundation for long-term support of replacement teeth.
Almost all dental implants in use today are made from titanium or titanium alloy. These materials have been shown to be well tolerated by bone. The terms ‘osseointegrated implants’ and ‘endosseous implants’ are widely used to describe dental implants that can develop and maintain a close union with bone in order to support replacement teeth.
Who is a suitable candidate for dental implants?
Implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple missing teeth or to replace teeth in cases with complete tooth loss. Therefore, almost any situation can potentially be treated with this modality. However, various factors need to be taken into consideration such as bone volume and quality, tooth and jaw relationships, oral habits and general medical health. Your dental surgeon will assess your suitability for treatment with these implants.
How is treatment carried out?
Treatment Planning - Thorough assessment of your medical health, oral health, the way your teeth fit together and bone volume will be performed to produce an individualised treatment plan.
Surgical Treatment - A minor surgical procedure is carried out to place titanium fixtures into bone. If bone and/or soft tissue are insufficient, there may also be a need for additional bone or soft tissue grafting procedures.
Restorative Treatment - After integration of the implant fixtures to the bone, ‘new permanent teeth’ will be designed and fabricated to fit over the dental implants.
How long does the treatment take to complete?
It normally takes about four months to a year to complete the entire treatment. This would depend on case complexity as well as the need for additional procedures like bone grafting. ‘Immediate loading’ implant, where the entire implant treatment is completed within the same day, is possible for a few selected cases.
How do I maintain these implants?
These ‘new teeth’ are maintained in much the same way as normal teeth. Specific brushing and flossing techniques will be taught, as well as regular dental checks on the implants. Good oral hygiene is required to ensure the long-term success of your implants.
How do I maintain these implants?
If the titanium fixtures have successfully integrated to the bone and are properly maintained, they should last for many years. However, just as you would expect conventional crowns, bridges and fillings to need occasional repairs or replacements during the course of their lifetime, your implant-supported teeth may also need similar maintenance.