Dental Implants

What are dental implants?

A dental implant is used to support one or more false teeth. It is a titanium screw that can replace the root of a tooth when it fails. Just like a tooth root, it is placed into the jawbone.

Are dental implants safe and how long will they last?

Dental Implants are a safe, well-established, tried-and-tested treatment. It’s probably true to say that dental implants, much like natural teeth, will last for as long as you care for them. How well you look after your dental implants – and whether you go for your regular maintenance appointments – will have the biggest impact on how long they will last. If you don’t look after your dental implants, they will develop a coating like that found on neglected natural teeth. When dental implants left untreated, this can lead to gum infection, bleeding, soreness, and general discomfort. You could get all these problems also with your natural teeth. If your dental implants are well looked after, and if the bone they are fitted to is strong and healthy, you can expect them to last for many years. However, just as with other surgical dental implants (such as a hip replacement) there is no lifetime guarantee.

I have some of my own teeth. Can I still have dental implants?

Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with dental implants – from one single tooth to a complete set.

Can dental implants always be used to replace missing teeth?

Depends on the condition of the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will arrange for a few special tests to find out the amount of bone still there. If there is not enough, or if it isn’t healthy enough, it may not be possible to place dental implants without grafting bone into the area first.

Do dental implants hurt?

Placing a dental implant is often easier than taking a tooth out and is usually done using a simple local unaesthetic. You will not feel any pain at the time, but just like after an extraction, you may feel some discomfort during the week after the surgery. Sometimes your dentist might give you a sedative if you are very nervous or if the case is a complicated one. General anesthetics are rarely used for dental implants and are generally only used for very complicated cases.

How long does the treatment take?

Your dentist will be able to give you a rough timetable before the treatment starts. Usually, the permanent false teeth are fitted 3 to 4 months after the dental implants are put in. Some teeth can now even be fitted at the same time as the dental implants (these are called ‘immediate implants’) but you should check with your dentist to see whether these are suitable for you. Sometimes treatment takes longer, and your dentist will talk to you about your treatment time.

What about aftercare for Dental Implants?

Your dentist will give you instructions on how to look after your dental implant. They may give you some painkillers after the surgery – or check whether you have them at home – to take over the next few days if you need them.

What happens next?

After your dental implants have been placed, the bone in your jaw needs to grow onto them and fuse to them. This usually takes a few months. Sometimes the dental implants may be stable enough when they are fitted for the false teeth to be attached sooner than this. If you are having one, two or three teeth replaced, you may have a temporary denture in the meantime. If you have full dentures, you can keep wearing these while your dental implants are healing. Your dentures will need altering, to fit properly after the surgery, and a ‘healing cap’ will usually be placed onto the dental implant site to protect it.

Are the dental implant teeth difficult to clean?

No. But aftercare is important if you are going to have a long-lasting, successful dental implant. Your dentist should give you detailed advice on how to look after your dental implants. Cleaning around the teeth attached to the implants is not more difficult than cleaning natural teeth. However, there may be areas that are difficult to reach, and you’ll be shown methods to help you. You may need to visit your dentist more often, but your dentist will be able to talk to you about this.

If I had gum disease when I had my own teeth, will I get it with the dental implants?

Yes, if you don’t care for them well enough. If you keep them clean and have them regularly checked by your dentist, you should not have any problems. Smoking also affects the health of natural teeth and dental implants. So, if you smoke, you may need to look after your dental implants more carefully.

Can I take the teeth out if they are fixed to dental implants?

Most teeth attached to dental implants can only be fitted and removed by the dentist. However, if you have removable dentures attached to the dental implants, then you’ll be able to take them out for cleaning.

Do the dental implants show?

Most implants look exactly like natural teeth.

Do I have a dental implant for each missing tooth?

If you have a single tooth missing, you will need a dental implant to support it. If you have a few teeth missing, and these are next to each other, you could still have one dental implant for each tooth. Also, you may find that two or more dental implants may be able to support more than one tooth each. Your dentist will talk to you about the best option for you.

What if I have an accident?

Dental Implants and the teeth they support can be damaged by an accident in the same way that natural teeth can. So, it is important that you wear a professionally made mouthguard if you play sports that involve contact or moving objects. If just the teeth are damaged, they can usually be removed from the dental implant and replaced.

However, if the titanium implant itself is damaged beyond repair, it can be safely left in the jaw if it is too difficult to remove. Another dental implant may be fitted alongside it to replace the damaged one.

What happens if the dental implant does not fuse with the bone?

This happens very rarely. If the dental implant becomes loose during the healing period, or just after, it is easily removed, and your jaw will heal in the normal way. Once your jaw has healed, another dental implant can be placed there. Or the dentist can make a bridge, fitting it to the implanted false teeth that have ‘taken’.

Where do I get this treatment?

It is important to choose right place to get the dental implant treatment. Choosing an experienced clinic/doctor and a specialist for implantology would be a good idea.

Remember to ask:

• exactly what treatment is proposed
• what experience the dentist has in this work
• dental implants cost, dental treatment; and warranty
• what the alternatives are.

Make sure you get a treatment plan, along with an estimate, and ask if a guarantee is included for your treatment.