A dental implant is used to replace one or more missing teeth; even full jaws can be replaced with dental implants. It is a titanium screw that is placed to replace the root of a tooth when it fails. Just like a tooth root, it is placed into the jawbone. After the placement of the implant it needs to heal and toughen in the bone – it needs to osseo-integrate – to allow it to settle and get unified with the bone. This period of healing is normally between 3-4 months, but it can be shorter or longer. After this period of time the implant is provided with a post structure called an abutment, the abutment can there after be prepared to support a single tooth crown, a bridge or a denture. During the healing period, a denture or a temporary crown can in some case be provided.
Placing an implant is often easier than taking a tooth out and is usually done using a simple local anaesthetic. You will not feel any pain at the time, but you may feel some discomfort during the week after the surgery.
You may need a sedative if you are very nervous or if the case is a complicated one, either administered intravenously by a sedationist or prescribed to you in tablets by your GP. General anaesthetics are rarely used for implants and are generally only used for very complicated cases.
Whether you can have dental implants or not depends primarily on the condition of your bone, that is how much bone there is left and the quality of the bone. But certain medical conditions, medications and smoking are also other important factors that can affect the outcome and indicate whether you can have dental implants or not.
As part of the your implant assessment we will arrange for a number of special x-rays/scans and other tests and evaluations 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.
Aftercare of dental implants is as important as looking after your natural teeth if you are going to have a long-lasting, successful implant. Your dentist should give you detailed advice on how to look after your dental implant prosthetic. 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. You may need to visit your hygienist more frequently but your dentist will be able to talk to you about this.