A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made of titanium that a dentist places into your jaw which acts like the root of a natural tooth.
Implants are the closest thing to having your natural teeth back in terms of function, and cause no damage to your remaining teeth.
The placing of an implant is carried out in our surgery using normal local anaesthetic.
Implant treatment normally has two stages. First the implant is placed in to the jaw and once when the jaw is healed, replacement teeth are attached to the implant.
Will regular visits to your dentist and good oral health and diet implants can last a lifetime.
The uses of implants, bridges and high quality dentures can be used to replace one or several teeth.
Are implants safe and how long will they last?
How well you look after your 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 implants they will develop a coating similar to that found on neglected natural teeth. Left untreated, this can lead to gum infection, bleeding, soreness and general discomfort. You could get all these problems with natural teeth.
If your 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 implants (such as a hip replacement) there is no lifetime guarantee.
I have some of my own teeth. Can I still have implants?
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants – from one single tooth to a complete set.
Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
It depends on the condition of the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will arrange for a number of 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 implants without grafting bone into the area first.
Do implants hurt?
Placing an implant is often easier than taking a tooth out and is usually done using a simple local anesthetic. 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.
How long does the treatment take?
Usually the permanent false teeth are fitted 3 to 4 months after the implants are put in. Some teeth can now even be fitted at the same time as the implants (these are called ‘immediate implants’) but you should check with your dentist to see whether these are suitable for you.
What about aftercare?
Your dentist will give you instructions on how to look after your 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 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 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 implants are healing. Your dentures will need altering, to fit properly after the surgery, and a ‘healing cap’ will usually be placed onto the implant site to protect it.
Are the implant teeth difficult to clean?
No. But aftercare is important if you are going to have a long-lasting, successful implant. Your dentist should give you detailed advice on how to look after your implants. Cleaning around the teeth attached to the implants is no 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.
If I had gum disease when I had my own teeth, will I get it with the 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 implants. So, if you smoke, you may need to look after your implants more carefully.
Can I take the teeth out if they are fixed to implants?
Most teeth attached to implants can only be fitted and removed by the dentist. However, if you have removable dentures attached to the implants, then you’ll be able to take them out for cleaning.
Do the implants show?
Most implants look exactly like natural teeth.
What happens if the implant does not fuse with the bone?
This happens very rarely. If the 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 implant can be placed there. Or the dentist can make a bridge, fitting it to the implanted false teeth that have ‘taken’.