People lose teeth all the time. There are several possible reasons:
- Gum disease
Whatever the reason for losing your teeth, they may need to be replaced, both for aesthetic and functional reasons. Old fashioned methods for replacement include dentures and bridges and though these may still be suitable in some cases, for many patients implants are the clear solution
What Is A Dental Implant?
A dental implant is typically a small screw shaped attachment usually made from titanium. It is inserted within the jawbone to take the place of a missing root. Once the implant has fused (osseointegrated) a replacement tooth can be secured to the top of the implant. This new tooth can look, feel and perform just like a natural tooth. It is also possible to use multiple implants in order to support a denture or bridge if several or all teeth are missing.
- Comfort- implant supported replacement teeth are more comfortable than conventional dentures because there is no slipping or movement. This eliminates some of the key worries of denture wearers and improves self confidence
- Safer- dental implants are safer for your natural teeth than conventional bridgework as they remove the need to grind down healthy teeth
- Bone- when teeth are lost the alveolar bone which would hold the tooth in place gradually shrinks. This may not be noticeable where only one or two teeth are missing. However, if several teeth are lost it can begin to affect the shape and structure of the face. Implants placed into the bone help to maintain its structure.
How Many Teeth Can Be Supported By Implants?
All the common forms of tooth replacement, such as bridges or dentures can be replaced by dental implants.
If you are missing just one natural tooth, then one implant is normally all that will be needed, bigger spaces created by two or more missing teeth do not always need one implant per tooth; however the exact number of implants will depend upon the quality and volume of bone at each potential implant site.
The bone in the lower jaw is usually stronger than the upper.
If you have no teeth in the lower jaw, and are not yet ready for multiple implant placements, a conventional lower denture can be considerably improved with two implants placed beneath the front section – this is called an ‘overdenture’.
The same overdenture concept when used to treat the upper jaw will usually require more implants as the bone is generally softer. Implant-supported overdentures, just like conventional dentures are still removed for daily cleaning, however, once back in the mouth, the implants make them much more stable.
Am I Suitable For Dental Implants?
Dental implants can be placed in patients of any age (with fully developed jawbones), provided that they have a sufficient quantity and quality of bone tissue available.
At church stretton Dental Practice we will carry out a full assessment to spot any potential difficulties. If there are any signs of gum disease or decay, these must first be treated.
If you have good general health then dental implants will almost certainly work for you. However, habits such as heavy drinking or smoking can increase the number of problems associated with initial healing and thereafter may negatively influence the long-term health of gum and bone surrounding each implant.
What Does It Involve?
The implant process involves several steps that normally take place over a period of three to nine months. Although the actual treatment methods can vary a typical process normally involves:
At initial consultation alternatives will be discussed, these usually include:
- No treatment
The feasibility of providing implants will then be discussed. X-rays may be taken along with models.
A relatively simple surgical procedure that can be performed under sterile conditions in a dental surgery under local anaesthesia. If during assessment bone is judged to be deficient, a number of options are available for regeneration.
Although some implants can be loaded into function immediately or early, it is common for a period of three months or more to be allowed for the bone to fully integrate before loading. A denture or simple adhesive bridge can often be worn as a temporary measure during this healing phase.
Once the implants have fused (integrated) they may need to be uncovered and brought into function. There are a variety of possible restorations ranging from a single crown, small or large bridge, or a removable overdenture clipped to the implants.
Following completion the implants will require regular and thorough cleaning as instructed by the dentist. Regular check ups are needed to monitor the soft tissue, bone levels and integrity of the restoration.
How Long Do The Implants Last?
Dental implants have been used for over 30 years to replace missing teeth and they can last a lifetime depending on how well you look after them. Careful dental hygiene and regular check ups will prolong the life of your implants.
Are The Implants Painful?
Patients are often surprised at how little discomfort they feel during and after implant placement.
There maybe an initial swelling and soreness but this should not interfere with daily life. Often patients are back at work the following day.
An implant can be used to replace a single missing tooth
Implants can also be used to replace multiple missing teeth. In the image above, for example, two Straumann implants have been placed in order to restore a three tooth space with a bridge
Implants can also be used to support and fix full dentures in order to provide better comfort and fit.