If a tooth is missing, or needs extracting, there are several ways to fill the space that is left. It is important to try to replace any missing teeth in order to balance the way your jaw bites. If you have several missing teeth this can lead to chewing and digestion problems. These spaces can be filled using bridges, dentures or dental implants.
What are dental implants?
Missing teeth can often be replaced by cosmetic dental implants. Implants act like roots of teeth. After they have been fitted and have healed in place, dentures or crowns may be attached to them. When dentures are held in place by implants they do not slip around. If crowns are fitted on implants they act like normal teeth.
Dental implants are predictable trying to achieve a rigid fixation with the surrounding bone and maintenance of this state throughout many years of function.
Teeth implants can only be placed if there is enough bone present in the jaw. When teeth are lost, the bone around the teeth gradually disappears. If too much bone has been lost it is sometimes possible to grow bone in its place.
What are the alternatives?
For people with NO remaining teeth the alternatives are complete dentures, implants which secure their dentures in place or implants which support crowns and bridges.
For people who have SOME of their own teeth the alternatives are crowns and bridges supported by implants and/or teeth, partial dentures secured by implants and/or teeth, partial dentures supported by teeth or bridges supported by teeth.
General dental health
To plan the most suitable treatment certain information is helpful- for example photographs, x-rays, models of your teeth and jaws. In some circumstances, a more comprehensive three-dimensional x-ray evaluation using a CT scan may be requested to give greater detail of the shape of your jaws.
Having a healthy mouth
Tooth implantation survives best in a healthy environment. Any tooth decay or gum problems need to be corrected before implants are placed to give them the best chance of success. Sometimes treatment is needed before you are ready for implants.
How many Implants?
As a general principle, as many dental implant fixtures as possible should be used. This allows the stresses of biting to be spread over the maximum number of implants, thus diminishing the load on each particular one.
Some people find it more convenient to proceed in stages. It is sometimes possible to have two or three implants placed, use them for a while and some time later, add more implants to improve the treatment plan.
What is it like having cosmetic dental implants fitted?
Generally speaking, having implants fitted is not at all painful. For apprehensive patients, a sedation can be given making the procedure quite comfortable.
What is it like after having the implants placed?
The after-effects of having implants placed are usually mild and may include slight bruising, dull ache, and swelling.
How long does the treatment take to complete?
This depends on the complexity of the treatment. This can be discussed at treatment planning stage. In most cases it will take approximately 3 months. We do not want to rush the treatment and allow enough time required for complete healing and maturation of bone and soft-tissues. Respect nature!
The finished teeth – aftercare
Thorough daily cleaning is as important with implants as it is with teeth.
Follow-up appointments and regular check-ups
Regular maintenance check ups may be recommended three, four or six monthly. In most cases review appointments will be more frequent during the first year that the implants are in function. Regular check-ups are every bit as important as they are with natural teeth, if not more so!
Smoking and alcohol consumption
Both smoking and heavy alcohol consumption reduce the survival of implants and teeth. If you think that either of these two habits could be a problem for you, then you need to discuss this with your dentist.