To find out if implants are right for you, you will need to consult with a dentist, oral surgeon and/or a dentures expert. During the consultation, the dental specialist will carefully study your teeth and gums to assess the density and quantity of bone. This assessment may include an X-ray examination (OPG) to make sure that the bone structure is sufficient to accommodate an implant, and to determine exactly where to place it. Then your dentist will recommend the dental implant treatment plan that suits you best. The advice is based on the appearance of the tissues in your mouth, the state of your oral hygiene as well as your personal habits; you will also need to commit to following the aftercare instructions. Some patients with inadequate bone or gum tissue require tissue transplants and/or special implants with a smaller diameter (called mini implants). The dental specialist will discuss your particular situation with you, how long the course of treatment will take, how many visits are needed, and what to expect after each procedure. During the consultation, you will also discuss local or general anaesthesia if needed.
Placement of dental implants
Today's dental implants are largely indistinguishable from real teeth. Among other things, this is thanks to the structural and functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone. An implant is inserted during a single visit, but after that it needs to go through a period of osseointegration. Osseointegration is the process whereby the dental implant anchors to the jawbone. Osseointegrated implants are the most common type of dental implant. An osseointegrated implant needs from 3 to 6 months to anchor and heal; once this process is complete the dentist completes the procedure by fitting a crown. If osseointegration does not occur, the implantation fails. Dental implantation is performed in order to replace missing teeth and can be done at any time after puberty, or once bone growth is complete. Some medical conditions, such as active diabetes, cancer and periodontal disease, may require additional treatment before it is possible to perform the implant procedure.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is a rod that is gently inserted directly into the jawbone. Once inserted, it acts as an anchor to support one or more crowns or a dental prosthesis. Each implant can be used to support up to two artificial teeth. A major advantage provided by an implant is that it is not necessary to drill out the teeth on either side of the gap, as is otherwise necessary when preparing a conventional dental bridge.
The implant stimulates the bone to reduce further shrinkage. Implants can also be used as anchors to improve the stability and retention of loose prostheses. Patients see distinct improvements when they speak and eat, and experience enhanced comfort and a new sense of self-confidence. We are often able to remove the tooth and insert a dental implant at the same time. Dental implants are usually made of titanium. The reason for this is that titanium is an inert material that does not react or change state. Using titanium avoids the problems that may arise with other materials, which are rejected by our own living tissue.
Who can get a dental implant?
For a dental implant to work, the jawbone must be sufficiently stable to insert the implant. This is ascertained by performing an x-ray on the jaw. If your jawbone is not strong enough for a dental implant, it is possible to transplant bone from another area, such as your chin. The other option is to use a bone donor, but there is no guarantee that your own tissue will accept the donated bone. In addition to an intact jawbone, candidates for a dental implant must be in good health, with a healthy mouth and gums, and must have a lifestyle consistent with the demands of rehabilitation after an implant is inserted. Lifestyle factors such as smoking can jeopardise rehabilitation.
What does dental implant surgery involve?
- Implants in the form of metal cylinders are inserted into the jawbone in the place of the missing root.
- The connection, e.g. a screw, is fastened to the implant.
- The tooth is attached to the implant by this connection.
- These stages may take a total of 3 to 6 months.