What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are the most advanced way to replace a missing tooth or teeth. It is a replacement root made most commonly of titanium which is implanted into the jaw in areas where a tooth or teeth have been lost. This then acts as a root and a replacement tooth can then be fixed to it in a similar way as a crown. They are currently the closest you can get to natural teeth and although it is impossible to beat or replicate a healthy natural tooth it is often reported by patients that implants look, feel and function like natural teeth.
What does the treatment involve?
Most implants are placed under local anaesthesia similar to that used for fillings or extractions. They are inserted into the jawbone after incisions are made in the gums. The duration and complexity differs from case to case and it is important to make sure you understand how complex your own plan is. After a period of time the bone into which the implant is placed will attach to the surface of the implant. A small metal pin is then fitted onto the implant upon which a final restoration in the form of a crown or bridge or over-denture is fixed. The time required to complete treatment also differs from patient to patient and their individual treatment plan.
Who qualifies? /Are you suitable? /Range of treatments
There is hardly anybody who is not suitable for implant treatment. With the exception of rare intravenous medical treatment all other medical conditions, managed during implant treatment, can lead to a successful outcome. It goes without saying that your dentition must be healthy and free of gum disease. Even patients with severe loss of bone in their jaws or several missing teeth or even no teeth left at all will qualify for implant treatment, although this might require a more complex treatment plan. Growing or transplanting new bone may be required.
Is it painful/Uncomfortable/Pain control?
Most patients are pleasantly surprised as to how little pain is experienced after implant placement. Often none or just a couple of pain control tablets are needed on the day after the procedure. Some swelling as well as bruising for a few days after surgery can also be expected.
How safe are implants?
Implants are completely safe and you will be made aware of any anatomical structures that are at risk of damage in your particular case. Your treatment plan will point out these structures and the measures we will take to avoid damage. Even with these in place there will always remain a very small statistical risk which will be discussed with you as part of your treatment plan.
Problems/Causes of failure/Success rates/How long do they last?
A small percentage of implants fail shortly after placement and have to be removed. Smoking and excess alcohol consumption plays a major role in early and late implant failure. The risks involved with smoking will form part of your treatment plan. Poor plaque control around implants also plays a major role in late implant failure. Nothing lasts forever and this is also true for implant retained teeth. It can be accepted that a well integrated implant that is well maintained in a healthy mouth can last many years with a good possibility that this can last you your lifetime. You must also expect that crowns and/or any other structures fixed on an implant might need replacement and maintenance in the same way as normal teeth need attention from time to time. This also includes possible screw and component failures. Grinding teeth can also overload implants. All these risk factors will form part of your treatment plan.