What are dental implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made of a titanium alloy that is integrated into the jaw bone. It can then be used to replace a single tooth or as part of a bridge/denture to replace multiple teeth. An implant is placed via a surgical procedure underneath the gums.
How successful are dental implants?
Success rates of dental implants vary between patients depending on a number of factors, however, on average, dental implants have a success rate of around 95%. With proper care implants can last a lifetime
What are the alternatives to dental implants?
The alternative to implants include the following:
A denture: Whilst dentures can successfully replace teeth they differ from implants in that they are removable. They must be removed for cleaning and at night when sleeping. Furthermore, unlike implants, they do not maintain bone after a tooth is lost, instead, they cause the bone to shrink further.
A bridge: Like an implant, a bridge is a fixed option. Bridges use the space on either side of a gap to replace a missing tooth. They are not suitable for large spans and unfortunately require the preparation of healthy teeth to support the missing tooth. They also do not last as long as implants, on average 15 years. At this point it is likely the supporting teeth will also be compromised, resulting in an even larger gap.
Is implant surgery painful?
Although the process may sound daunting, implant patients often find placement much better than anticipated. Like with most dental treatment you will be given a local anesthetic and will be awake for the treatment. For more complex procedures, or at a patient’s request, we can also provide conscious sedation, meaning a more comfortable experience for the patient.
You should not feel any pain during the surgery and the bone where the implant is placed does not have an abundance of pain nerves – this procedure is more comfortable than having a tooth out.
After the surgery is carried out you will experience some discomfort as the anesthetic wears off. Depending on the type of surgery carried out and your specific health requirements, you will be given post-operative medication to ensure you are both pain-free and at low risk of infection.
If bone grafts are performed along with the implants there may be slightly more discomfort, but still only minor amounts.
If you have any questions or worries before, during or after your treatment the team at Weybridge Dental Practice are happy to help you.
How long does it take?
During your consultation, you will undergo a thorough oral examination. We will require a 3D X-ray called a Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) scan. This provides very accurate information on how much bone is available and proximity to other critical structures in the jaw bone, such as nerves and blood vessels. If teeth have to be removed, then we normally wait 6-12 weeks before placing the implant, although there are a few cases where we can place the crown immediately after the tooth has been removed.
- Surgical Procedure
The artificial titanium tooth root is secured into the jaw bone via a surgical procedure below the gum line. Surgery can take between 1-2 hours, it depends on the number of implants and jaw anatomy. The implant is then either buried under the gum or left with a small smooth screw head protruding just through the gum. It is generally left unloaded like this for three months while the bone integrates around the threads of the titanium implant. In some cases, we are able to place a crown immediately on the implants after surgery, but this is case dependant. Some patients do not have enough bone in the potential implant site, in these cases we can use highly predictable bone regeneration/grafting procedures which help rebuild the lost bone. The type of bone substitute we use is case dependent and will always be discussed after you have the results of your CBCT scan.
There will be some mild discomfort when the anesthetic wears off. You will be given specific instruction on what medication to take and how to look after the surgical site. The implant will begin to fuse and merge with the surrounding bone (osseo-integration). The time taken for this process to occur depends on the healing capabilities of the individual and if any bone grafting was carried out. Simple cases take 3 months for integration, whereas grafted cases can take up to 9 months.
- Fitting of the implant crown
Once the implant has fused with the bone you will pay your dentist another visit, at this point, your dentist will take an impression to fabricate a custom made porcelain crown. At the following appointment, the crown is then either screwed or cemented to the implant body, completing the restoration.
At Weybridge dental practice we have the latest facilities including specialised equipment such as microscopes and hard/soft tissue lasers. In addition to this, we use only the best implant components from the top manufacturers in the world. There are over 250 different implant manufacturers with thousands of different implant designs. The majority try to clone the design of the more established and successful implant companies. We partner with the market leaders who are Nobel Biocare and Noess.
Why are some practices advertising implants for less than the price I have been quoted?
Our high levels of success and predictably come from the time spent on planning each case and ensuring we use the highest quality surgical components and fixtures. By cutting out the planning stages and purchasing replica systems, costs can reduce significantly, but this ultimately results in reduced predictability and long term success. The team at Weybridge Dental Practice has spent many years refining their skills in implants and restorative dentistry and is still involved with post-graduate education and teaching.
Can I eat normally with dental implants?
During the placement procedure, it is recommended you eat soft foods for the first week or two after each stage is completed.
3-6 months after the procedure the implants undergo “Osseo integration” – this is when the implants fuse with the surrounding jaw bone. During this period it is recommended the implants be disrupted as little as possible to ensure success and therefore it is recommended you avoid crunchy hard foods.
Once the procedure and any necessary healing have been completed you will be able to eat on these implant teeth as you would on your normal teeth!
What maintenance do implants require?
Implants need to be maintained much like your own teeth, although they are an artificial replacement they are still able to become infected. Infection of the surrounding bone around the implant can lead to bone loss and subsequently implant loss.
With the help of our team, you will be guided on how to best look after your natural teeth and implants so you can make the most of your new smile for many years to come. Book your appointment today.