What are dental implants?
An implant is generally made out of titanium which is a metal used in various aspects of medicine and is well known for its excellent healing properties in the human body. The implant acts similar to a tooth root and is directly anchored within the jaw bone so it can be used to support a crown or if several implants are used they can be used to retain a bridge or loose dentures.
Are implants safe? How long will they last?
Implants are a well-established, tried-and-tested treatment with many procedures carried out worldwide. Can implants last a life time?I would like to say yes but as with everything it is how you treat and care for them. Implants can indeed last a life time in a well cared for mouth but if not then like anything in life they will not last. Implants like teeth can be affected by the bacteria in the mouth and if not cleaned can get gum disease like teeth. Therefore, they are not fit and forget and regular attendance at your dentist is needed for inspection and hygiene
I have some of my own teeth. Can I still have implants?
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants, from one single tooth to a complete set.
Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
It depends on the state of the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will arrange for a number of special tests to assess the amount of bone still there. If there is not enough, or if it isn’t healthy enough, it may not be possible to place implants without grafting bone into the area first.
Do implants hurt?
Implants are usually placed with local anaesthetic or with sedation. You will not feel any pain at the time, but you may feel some discomfort during the week following the surgery. This is usually due to having stitches in place, and the normal healing process.
Can I have the new teeth straight away?
Unfortunately it is not wise to push the healing boundaries. The implants need to bond (integrate) with the bone after they have been placed. This takes at least 3 months. If you are having one, two or three teeth replaced, you will have a temporary restoration in the meantime. If you have complete dentures, then you can wear them throughout the healing period once they have been adjusted after the surgery.
How long does treatment take?
It takes about 4-5 months from the initial assessment to the time when the artificial teeth or dentures are finally attached to the implants.
A lot depends on how complicated your treatment is. Your dentist will be able to give you a timetable once the surgery has been done.
Are the teeth difficult to clean?
Cleaning around the teeth attached to the implants is no more difficult than cleaning natural teeth. However, there may be areas that give you problems and you’ll be shown methods to help.
If I had gum disease when I had my own teeth, will I get it with the teeth attached to the implants?
Implants can develop problems if not looked after well as can normal teeth. There are some risk factors that may affect the success of dental implants which the dentist will discuss with you if applicable.
Can I take the teeth out if they are fixed to implants?
Most artificial teeth attached to implants can only be placed and removed by the dentist. However, if you have complete dentures fixed to the implants by bars, then you’ll be able to take them out for cleaning.
Do the implants show?
Your dentist will make sure that the implants won’t show during all normal movements of the mouth and lips.
Do I have an implant for each missing tooth?
No, unless you’re only having a single tooth replaced. Normally, five or six implants are used to replace all the teeth in one jaw.
What happens if the implant does not bond (integrate) with the bone?
This happens very rarely. If the implant becomes loose during the healing period or just after, then it is easily removed and healing takes place in the normal way. Once the jaw has healed, another implant can be placed there. Or, the dentist can make a bridge, using the implanted false teeth that have taken.
Do implants require special care?
Dental implants are not ‘fit and forget’ and they will require the same special attention to cleaning as natural teeth to prevent the onset on gum disease. The dentist may recommend a cleaning and maintenance programme to ensure that your implants and teeth remain healthy.