These are man-made titanium posts implanted into the bone to substitute the missing, natural teeth. This is an alternative to bridges and/or dentures. The implants and crowns are attached and function just like real teeth. The crown ‘artificial tooth’ is attached to the implant by using an abutment.
What’s so good about implants?
- They help withstand greater bite pressures
- Bone loss in the jaw is prevented
- They help prevent hollowed or collapsed cheeks
- May prevent gum decline
- Do not require reshaping of healthy teeth around them
- Usually dentures are less comfortable than implants
- Care for implants just like real teeth
What happens before surgery?
There are some exceptions to having implants done. These exceptions include the following:
- Age: Children younger than 17 years are not usually considered suitable candidates as they are still growing. Otherwise, age isn’t a restriction
- Bone loss – if you lack sufficient bone, then you may not be suitable for implants and thus may need to undergo grafting procedures beforehand
- Bone replacement techniques can be used is some cases to build enough bone for the implant site. Your dentist will be able to help confirm if this option is available to you
- Smoking can impair healing and may not allow the implant to integrate with the bone
- If you are pregnant, some medications and general anaesthesia may cause harm to your unborn baby
- Certain conditions, alcohol/drug abuse and psychological illnesses may make this treatment unsuitable as instructions and directions may not be followed correctly
Do I have to give my dental and medical history?
Your full dental and medical history and a current list of medications will need to be given to your dentist as the success of the implant and your full recovery are influenced by what medications and illnesses you may have had.
Particular things to tell your dentist are as follows:
- Any kind of blood disorder like Hemophilia
- Rheumatic fever
- Any heart surgery or heart problems
- Facial radiotherapy
- Medication taken – regularly like aspirin and Warfarin
- Allergies to anaesthetic drugs
- Allergies to antibiotics or other medications
Will I need to have any tests done?
Yes, your dentist will perform diagnostic tests to confirm eligibility for the procedure and what the best treatment approach will be. The tests they may perform are listed below:
- X-ray radiographs
- CT scans of your jaw
- Dental casts of your mouth
The size, shape and the appearance of the artificial teeth are based on the surrounding teeth. If you have any concerns or questions about this, then discuss this with your dentist.
Be aware that not all implants produce ‘life-like’ results. Everyone is different and unforeseen challenges can arise. It can take time to get used to biting and chewing again as this will feel a little different to natural teeth; however most people have few problems if any.
The main thing to remember is good oral hygiene—natural teeth or not. Should the implant need to be replaced, even if the surgery is successful, this may be because:
- The location of the implant has altered
- General health
- Commitment to looking after your teeth
Caring For your Implant:
Implants are designed to last for many years, but like natural teeth it depends on your oral hygiene. Good dental habits are crucial. Plaque is the enemy of both natural teeth and dental implants. It can cause inflammation of the surrounding gum and can lead to bone loss around the implant itself. After implant placement, it can take around 14 days for the new gum to mature. Again, maintaining regular dental visits is vital to your oral health.