Dental Implant Information
Dental implants have revolutionised the dental industry, replacing the need for ill-fitting and uncomfortable dentures.
What are dental implants?
The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts, which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth. Implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
Placing the implant
For most patients the placement of dental implants usually involves one or two surgical procedures, depending on the doctors’ medical assessment. Firstly, implants are placed within your jawbone. To place the implants, the surgeon first will make an incision (cut) in your gums to expose the bone. He then will drill a hole in the bone for the implant, and place the implant in the hole. The surgeon will then suture (stitch) your gum closed over the implant. The time required for this procedure depends on the number of implants being placed and whether or not bone grafting is being performed at the same time. In most cases, placing a single dental implant requires about one hour.
For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are left buried beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. One of our surgeons will uncover the implants and attach small posts, which will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. These posts protrude through the gums. When the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will usually not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Implants are a team effort between an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. One of our surgeons will perform the actual implant surgery, and initial tooth extractions and bone grafting if necessary, then your restorative dentist will fit and make the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
Reasons for dental implants
- To replace one or more teeth;
- To provide support for a partial denture;
- To increase the support and stability of full upper or lower denture;
- To enhance chewing comfort;
- To increase confidence while smiling, talking and eating;
- To improve your overall psychological health; and
- To improve esthetic appearance and regain over all confidence.
What are the most common benefits of dental implants?
Replacing a lost tooth is vital to maintaining the overall health and function of the surrounding teeth. It helps avoid tooth migration and loss of structure. It is necessary to avoid loss of bone from the jaw in that area. Dental implants are an effective means of counteracting these problems. Dental implants are also very strong and provide a feel as close to a natural tooth as can be currently achieved. Further to this, implants reduce the impact of the lost tooth on surrounding teeth, as traditional bridge structures often require reduction (filing down) of the two adjacent teeth to hold the bridge in place with crowns. Implanting avoids such alterations to the surrounding teeth when replacing a lost tooth.
Dental implants, when replacing dentures, provide even more benefits. Dentures are notorious for slipping at the worst possible moments. Poorly fitting dentures can even affect diet, restricting food selections to easily chewed foods. Implants eliminate the possibility of slipping or pinching, and allow food of almost all types to be eaten (other than extremely hard foods such as chewing on ice, pits, or popcorn kernels, which is very bad for the implants and not good for natural teeth either). In short, dental implants are the closest way to surgically restore a natural tooth to its original condition.
What types of prostheses are available?
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
Our surgeons perform implant surgery at the MIC, in a hospital-style operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient hospital implant surgery is for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs, or for those who need extensive bone grafting.
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.