Restore your confidence with the perfect smile. Dental implant are an adeal solution for replacing missing teeth and are the next best thing to natural teeth. Whether you have unsightly gaps, missing teeth or no teeth at all, custom dental implants could help you smile and eat comfortably again.
Dental implants are titanium posts or frames that are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums. Once in place, they allow your dentist to mount replacement teeth onto them.
There are many advantages to dental implants, including:
- Improved appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. Because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent.
- Improved speech. With poor-fitting dentures, the teeth can slip within the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words. Dental implants allow you to speak without the worry that your teeth might slip.
- Improved comfort. Because they become part of you, implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures.
- Easier eating. Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.
- 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 reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving your long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
- Durability. Implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care, many implants last a lifetime.
- Convenience. Removable dentures are just that; removable. Dental implants can eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing your dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep your dentures in place.
Your dentist will explain how to prepare for your procedure.
You may need to have an X-ray or a CT scan so your dentist can check the thickness of your jawbone and the position of other structures in your mouth.
Dental implant surgery is usually done under local anaesthesia. This completely blocks pain from your mouth and you will stay awake during the procedure. You may have a sedative – this relieves anxiety and helps you to relax. It’s rare, but you may need to go into hospital and have treatment under general anaesthesia. This means you will be asleep during the operation.
Your dentist will discuss with you what will happen before, during and after your procedure, and any pain you might have. This is your opportunity to understand what will happen, and you can help yourself by preparing questions to ask about the risks, benefits and any alternatives to the procedure. This will help you to be informed, so you can give your consent for the procedure to go ahead, which you may be asked to do by signing a consent form.
Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your dentist will make a cut in your gum and then drill a small hole in your jawbone. The implant will fit into this hole.
If you need to have teeth removed before dental implant surgery, your dentist may be able to remove a tooth and put an implant straight into your tooth socket – this is called an immediate implant. However, usually your dentist will fit the implant after a few weeks, which is called an immediate-delayed implant. Sometimes he or she will fit it after several months once your tooth is removed and your jawbone has had time to heal – this is called a delayed implant.
Immediate and delayed implants can be done in one or two stages.
- In one-stage implant treatment, the implant rod and the abutment that pokes through your gums to connect the implant to the false tooth will be fitted at the same time.
- In two-stage implant treatment, the implant rod will be buried under your gum while your bone heals (you won’t see it in your mouth). Then, a few months later, you will have another small operation to attach the abutment.
Your dentist may attach artificial teeth on the same day you have the implant. Usually, however, you will need to wait between three and eight months to allow your mouth to heal. Your dentist may fit a temporary bridge or partial dentures so you can't see the spaces between your remaining teeth. If you have complete dentures, they can be adjusted so that you can wear them throughout this time.
After your mouth has healed, you will have a second, smaller surgical procedure to uncover the gum over the top of the implant if necessary. Your dentist will then fit your artificial teeth onto the implant. The teeth may be fixed permanently or attached in a way that allows you to remove them for cleaning. Your dentist will ensure that they fit properly, match your other teeth and feel comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Implants are a safe, well-established, tried-and-tested treatment. It's probably true to say that implants, much like natural teeth, will last for as long as you care for them.
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.
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants - from one single tooth to a complete set.
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.
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 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 anaesthetics are rarely used for implants and are generally only used for very complicated cases.
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 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. Sometimes treatment takes longer and your dentist will be able to talk to you about your treatment time.
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.
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.
Unfortunately not. Implants are only available privately. However, in many situations, the cost of the treatment is only a little more than the cost of more conventional private dental treatment with crowns and bridges. Over the longer term, implants are usually a more cost-effective and satisfactory option.
There are other advantages to implants, too. If you have an implant to replace a single tooth, there is no need to cut down the teeth either side of it. If you had a bridge, your dentist would need to do this and fit crowns to these teeth to support the bridge.
Normal dentures often mean you can't eat or speak well, because the dentures move about. But teeth attached to an implant don't cause this problem as they are anchored to the bone more firmly than natural teeth.