Dental implants are titanium screw-like structures that replace the root of a tooth when it fails. It is placed directly into the jawbone. Most implants look exactly like natural teeth.
Implants are a safe and well-established treatment that will last for as long as you care for them. They can be placed depending on the condition of the bone in your jaw. Special tests, such as a CT scan, can determine the condition of the bone. You may need bone grafting, but your dentist/ implantologist will discuss this with you. Placing the implant is a fairly straightforward procedure which is done under a local anaesthetic. As with any dental surgery, you may feel some discomfort for a few days after the procedure, the implantologist may provide you with, or prescribe painkillers.
When the implant has been placed, the bone in your jaw needs time to grow in order to fuse to the implant. This can take a few months. It is very rare that the implant does not fuse with the bone.
You can have one single implant to a complete set. You may find that if you have more than one tooth missing, one implant may be able to support two or three teeth (this is called a bridge). The “false tooth” (i.e. crown or bridge) will be placed 3-4 months after the implant is put in. However, if you are having more than one tooth replaced, or the missing tooth is on an aesthetic area, you may be provided with a temporary denture. If you already have a full denture, this can still be worn while the implants are healing. After the surgery, a healing cap will be placed over the implant(s) for protection purposes.
As with natural teeth, if you neglect them, this can lead to a build-up of plaque/tartar that can lead to gum infection, bleeding and soreness. Implants are no more difficult to look after than natural teeth. If there any difficult areas to reach, your dental team will be able to show you how to keep these areas clean, you may need to visit your hygienist more often. If you look after your implants you shouldn’t have any problems. Smoking also affects the health of implants, if you are a smoker, you will need to take extra care. If you have removable denture(s) attached to the implants, you will be able to take these out to clean them.
Your dentist/ implantologist will provide you with instructions on how to look after your implant. Having implants placed means that you will still need regular maintenance appointments as you would with the rest of your teeth.
If the bone the implants are fitted to is strong and healthy, the implants will last for many years, however there is no lifetime guarantee. They are not available on the NHS, but implants are usually a more cost-effective and satisfactory option. For example; a bridge that can also be used to replace a missing tooth, also means drilling surrounding teeth to get a bridge to fit in place properly; or a denture that may move around when you are eating, if the denture is anchored onto implants, the dentures will stay in place while you are eating.
It is important that if you play sport, you wear a professionally-made mouthguard. If you do have an accident, the top part of the implant (crown/ bridge/ denture) can usually be removed from the implant and replaced. However, if the titanium implant is damaged, it may need to be removed from the bone and replaced.
If you are interested in implants, why not give the practice a call? Our dentist, Eloy Lopez, who places implants at the practice, will be happy to discuss your options and make a treatment plan with you.