A DENTAL IMPLANT is a small titanium fixture (insert) that is placed in the jaw bone to replace one or more missing teeth. Implants and their artificial teeth closely resemble the look and function of real teeth. The implants form a secure base for the replacement of teeth, restoring full function and renewing self-confidence and peace of mind. They are an appealing alternative to dentures and bridges.
A single implant can be used to replace one, or several missing teeth, depending on the circumstance. Multiple implants can be used to bridge spaces and secure full dentures to the jaw bone. Dental implants integrate into the jaw bone and provide a very solid platform to re-create function (chewing ability) and aesthetics, by building and connecting the tooth to the base of the implant, which incorporates the new tooth into the existing bite or smile.
WHO IS SUITABLE FOR AN IMPLANT
Nearly everyone who is missing one or more teeth, and is in good health is a candidate for dental implant treatment. Dental implants can last a lifetime, unlike bridges and partial dentures that may need to be replaced several times. They can withstand biting pressures, they prevent collapsed cheeks that can follow tooth extraction, and they are more comfortable than dentures, because they are fixed in the mouth. Dental implants prevent the bone loss that occurs when teeth are missing, so the natural appearance of the smile is also preserved. With implant treatment, there is no compromise to the adjacent teeth; they are not cut down to place a bridge, or loosened by the hooks on partial dentures.
Implants can only be placed in adults, because growth must be complete before placement.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE
In most cases, the healing period is between 3 and 6 months before teeth can be attached to the implants. A temporary appliance can be made if aesthetics are absolutely critical during this period.
After initial implant placement, another visit is required to ensure that healing is progressing well and to test how well the implant has integrated. After the implant crown is attached to the implant, regular dental check-ups are needed every 6 months to examine and ensure that the supporting gum and bone remains healthy, and professionally cleaned with specialised instruments. X-rays are also taken digitally each couple of years to examine the bone structure around the implant and to ensure that it remains healthy.
HOW TO CARE FOR AN IMPLANT
Dental implants also do not usually require special cleaning products and just like your natural teeth, you clean them with dental floss and brush with regular toothpaste.
For the implant to function well and to remain healthy, good oral hygiene and home is required on a twice daily basis. Special hygiene appliances (brushes, and floss) are available and may be helpful if there is any difficulty with routine cleaning techniques.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
The implant material, which is usually pure titanium, is extremely biocompatible and the bone treats the implant just as if it was made out of bone. The bone cells attach themselves to the implant in a process called osseointegration. In most cases, implants can be placed using local anaesthesia by your dentist.
IMPLANTS FUNCTION LIKE TEETH
Implants are not made to come out, just like teeth. Implants are not the same as natural teeth but they function and feel virtually the same as natural teeth. For patients who have had dentures or false teeth, the implant will feel much more secure. We use a technique where we are able to remove the attached implant crown if we absolutely must access the implant.
IMPLANTS CAN FAIL
Some implants fail because the bone has not integrated correctly with the implant surface. This may occur if the bone is very soft at the time the implant is placed or if the implant is initially unstable. Infection may also cause an implant to be lost. In most situations, an implant can be replaced if it fails to bond with the bone, provided that adequate bone and gum tissue is present. Most implant systems have success rates of 85-95% over a 5 to 10 year period.
SMOKING AND IMPLANTS?
Smoking affects the healing of the bone and soft tissue by reducing the nutrients and minerals in the tissues, and reducing the blood supply. Smoking is considered one of the biggest risk factors in the failure of dental implants with the chances of failure increasing 2 to 3 times in a smoker, which are not good odds for a complex and expensive treatment option.