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Dental Implants

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A dental implant is a device (often shaped like a screw) that is placed into the jaw to support a false tooth or group of teeth. The implant fuses with the jaw bone by a process called osseointegration. Most implants are made of commercially and medically pure titanium. It is the same metal that has been successfully used in hip replacements.

 

Dental implants provide a number of benefits including:

  • Improved appearance - dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. They also support your lips and facial profile.
  • Improved speech - poor-fitting dentures slip within the mouth causing your speech to slur. Dental implants will allow speech without concerns for teeth slipping.
  • Improved comfort - implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures.
  • Easier eating - moving dentures or lack of teeth can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth and do not move when eating.
  • Improved self-esteem - Dental implants can give you back your smile, and help you feel better about yourself.
  • Improved oral health - Dental implants don't require the reduction of adjacent teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. It also improves the long term health of your own teeth and preserves the bone surrounding the implant. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
  • Durability - Implants are very durable and will last many years.
  • Convenience - Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing your dentures as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep your dentures in place.

 

What is the process of having a dental implant?

Dental implant therapy is performed in stages. The first stage is the surgical placement of the dental implant into the jaw bone. At this stage, the implant is often left undisturbed for 3 to 6 months. This gives time for the bone in the jaw to grow around the implant and allow the implant to integrate with the bone. In most cases the implant is buried under the gums, so once the gums heal (about 2 weeks) and the stitches are removed you will not see any differences in your mouth.
After the 3 to 6 month healing phase, the second stage is performed for implants that are buried under the gums. This stage is simply to uncover the implant and place a healing cap on it to allow the gums to mould around the cap.
Approximately 2 weeks after the second stage, a mould can be taken of the implant. This mould is then used to create replicas of the teeth and implant. Your crown and a small connector post, known as an abutment, is fabricated in the laboratory. Once the crown and abutment is ready, the abutment is attached to the implant and the crown is then secured onto the abutment.
If you are missing a number of teeth, instead of one or more individual crowns, you may have attachments placed on the implant to retain and support a removable denture.

 

Is the implant procedure painful?

Most people are surprised that there is very little discomfort in the dental implant procedure at all. In fact, patients find the implant procedure less painful than a tooth extraction. We offer several different options of anaesthetic for the implant procedure. Local anesthesia is the most commonly chosen technique. Other options include Intravenous (IV). The actual surgical placement of the implant is generally not painful at all. After the anaesthetic wears off, you may have some slight discomfort. The level of discomfort varies from patient to patient but most require only mild analgesics for a few days.

 

Who is suitable for a dental implant?

Almost all adults with missing teeth are suitable for dental implant therapy. Some conditions such as alcoholism, some psychiatric disorders, uncontrolled diabetes and heavy smokers do create complications and hence implants are not recommended in these instances.
We also need to check to see how much bone you have, whether there is enough space for an implant and if the roots of adjacent teeth are away from the path of the implant. If you don't have enough bone, it is possible to grow bone or even graft bone from elsewhere in the mouth.

 

What are the advantages of dental implants?

The adjacent teeth are not damaged or cut in any way. It helps to prevent bone loss. Implants are also used to stabilise loose dentures or even replace them with fixed bridges.

 

How long will a dental implant last?

A dental implant anchored by sufficient bone can last for many years, but poor oral hygiene can shorten its lifespan. Good oral hygiene is crucial. Routine check-up is essential to maintain a dental implant, just like real teeth. 

 

How do we determine if there is adequate bone to place a dental implant?

X-Rays are crucial to determine the quantity, quality and shape of the bone to receive the implant. In most cases 3-D CT scan is required to provide accurate information.