Heard about implants but not sure what they are? To put it simply – dental implants are special titanium cylinders that are placed in your jaw which allow us to replace missing teeth.
Dental Implants are specially manufactured root replacements for a tooth/teeth. They are usually made of titanium, which is an excellent material at sticking to bone (just like hip and joint replacements!). Implants are usually shaped like a screw and are placed in the jaw where the missing tooth is. A special customised crown is then attached to the top of the implant. The finished product is almost exactly like a new tooth, albeit without the sensitivity!
When would you need an Implant?
Implants are a great option to replace missing teeth. There is no need to remove it every night like a plate/denture and it is cleaned normally just like any other tooth in your mouth. Implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth or multiple missing teeth. In more complex cases, a group of 4 or more implants can be used to replace an entire jaw of missing teeth.
How is an Implant fitted?
Firstly, your health will have to be assessed to see if you are a suitable candidate for implants. You should be in good health, have no gum disease and have a suitable amount of healthy jawbone. Secondly, special 3D x-ray scans of your jaw are done to determine the optimum position of the implant. In some cases, we may take a few moulds of your teeth for a construction of a special 3D printed surgical stent. This advanced technology allows extremely accurate positioning of the implant in your jawbone.
The implant is then surgically placed in the jaw bone where the tooth once was. Depending on the quality of the bone, the implant may be left to integrate for a period of 2 to 6 months. Once the integration process is finished, moulds of your teeth are taken and a special customised crown is constructed and screwed or cemented in. If you are missing all your teeth in your jaw, a special full arch denture is made and screwed onto digitally designed titanium strengthening bars.
How long do Implants last?
There are many variables for this. Generally, studies have shown a 97% success rate over 15 years. If you are healthy and have good oral hygiene (ie. you brush and floss well), you can expect them to last a long time. However, that said, some patients despite all of this, still have complications with their implants.
Are there any complications?
As with any dental treatment, some patients have experience complications. Whilst implants have a great success rate, implants can still fail on even the healthiest patients. Implants are not immune to gum disease and if proper checks and cleans are not done on a regular basis, the implants can get infected causing their eventual failure (peri-implantitis). On rare occasions implants can also fracture if there is heavy grinding happening at night. Small amounts of bone loss around an implant is a fairly common complication however if it is managed well, it may affect the integrity of the implant system.