A dental implant is a small titanium fixture that is inserted into the jaw bone to provide a base for supporting and attaching a crown or prosthesis.
Dental implants will bond with the bone tissue over time. As new bone cells grow around the implant, the implant integrates with the newly formed bone locking it into place. This is called ‘osseointegration’ and ‘biointergration’.
When the dental implant is securely anchored in the bone, a crown or prosthesis will be attached, and the Implant will be strong enough to bear the daily forces of chewing and normal function.
An implant may be placed immediately after extraction, or alternatively, an incision may be placed in the area of the missing tooth.
A Dental Implant can be used to replace:
- One tooth- One implant will be placed, with a crown fixed on top of the implant.
- Several teeth- Either several implants with crowns will be placed, or implants supporting a bridge.
- All the teeth- A number of implants are placed, then either a fixed bridge will be fitted onto the implants, or the implants will be used to firmly hold a removable denture.
What Are The Advantages Of Dental Implants?
- Implants bond biologically to the living bone tissue.
- Implants restore function and aesthetics to normal levels.
- Implants prevent bone loss in the jaw from progressive bone atrophy and shrinkage.
- Implants can last a life time with appropriate care and good oral hygiene. Like natural teeth they can be easily cleaned.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are dental implants? - Dental implants are screws made of a medically pure Titanium metal. The screws are placed in the jawbone where teeth are missing. It may be necessary for the implanted screws to rest for 3 to 6 months to become integrated to the jawbone, a term known as Osseointegration. After the appropriate healing time, the top of the implanted screw is uncovered for a fabricated tooth to be attached by using either a cementing agent or a tiny screw.
What are implants made of? - Implants are made of commercially and medically pure Titanium. This is the same metal that has been successfully used in hip implants for many years. Titanium is not known to cause any type of rejection phenomenon and therefore classified as inert.
How complicated is the surgery? - Implant surgery is dependent on your individual general, bone and oral health. The procedure may involve only one surgical phase or up to three surgical phases. The most common would be the two-stage surgery. The first stage involves the placement of the implants into the jawbone. This is most commonly done with just local anaesthesia. It is complicated only in the sense that the surgery requires great precision. Stage two involves the uncovering of the implants after they have integrated (fused to the bone). This can be accomplished with minor gum surgery or with a dental laser, and is a relatively minor procedure. In both instances, minimal post-operative discomfort is noticed. Sometimes a healing cap will be placed after the first stage, which is easily accessible so that not further surgery is required.
Can implants be rejected? - Implants are made of an inert metal, which is not known to cause any rejection phenomenon like that of a living organ such as the lung, liver or heart. Implant failure can occur from post-operative infections, poor systemic health and mechanical load. Implants have an 85 to 95 percent success rate depending upon factors that are evaluated before any implants are placed.
If I lose several teeth, do they each have to be replaced with a separate implant? - No. Although implants simulate the roots of teeth, biomechanically one implant can be used to replace one or more teeth. This will depend upon the functional requirements of your chosen restoration. At your consultation the dentist will discuss the various treatment alternatives and the type and number of implants that are needed in order to fulfill the treatment objectives.
What about infection and complications? - During the surgery every attempt is made to maintain a totally sterile field. This is essential to minimize any potential for post-operative infection. The dentist will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics as a precautionary measure and the necessary post-operative instructions. Once the implant therapy has been completed with your fixed restoration, it is imperative for you to maintain meticulous oral hygiene. Success very often depends on your cooperation and homecare efforts.
What types of restorations can be placed on implants? - The answer to this question depends upon your treatment objectives. This can vary from simple removable dentures, using the implants for retention, to totally fix (non-removable) implant supported porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns and bridges. Implant bridges can be either removable or fixed depending upon the number of implants. We have the ability to replace single or multiple missing teeth to return the mouth to a biologically healthy and aesthetically pleasing state.
Will I be able to chew and function normally? - Yes. Implants once integrated are just like your natural teeth. They are able to withstand great pressure when biting and chewing.
How long is the entire implant process? - Integration of dental implants takes approximately 3-6 months. Once the dentist confirms full integration in the bone, the restorative phase can be initiated. This may take several visits to several months to complete depending upon the complexity. If your oral conditions support a single-stage implant procedure the entire process may only take between 1 to 6 months.
What is the cost? - The cost of implant dentistry is based upon a combination of the surgical phase and the restorative phase. Your total treatment fee will depend upon the number of implants and the complexity of your final restoration.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.