what is a dental implant?
A dental implant is often the best way to replace a missing tooth, to both look and feel like the original tooth. A dental implant is a tooth root made from titanium, shaped like a screw and placed under the gum into the jaw bone. The implant is used to help secure crowns, bridges and dentures in the mouth creating a permanent support for replacement teeth.
what are the benefits of dental implants?
Dental implants offer you the opportunity of having false teeth which will feel similar to your own. Implants can be used to replace missing teeth without the need to drill into the adjacent healthy teeth and they also help preserve the jaw bone. Dentures (especially in the lower jaw) retained by implants are considerably firmer and more functional than those retained otherwise.
how successful are dental implants?
Present day implants have shown a high success rate (80 to 95% over 15 years) in patients with healthy mouths. The success rates of dental implants in patients who are susceptible to gum disease is slightly lower (80 to 85% over 7 years). Over 90% of implants will bond successfully to the jaw bone.
As an implant patient you need to be in good general health. Some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, osteoporosis or chronic sinus problems could interfere with healing and make your implants more likely to fail. Smoking may well shorten the life of an implant. Make sure you to tell your dentist about any medications you take regularly.
Any associated restorations (crowns, bridges or dentures) will need maintenance in the same way as conventional restorations.
If your implant is unsuccessful, your bone should grow back in about 3 months or so.
how do dental implants work?
Implant treatment comprises 2 phases, the surgical phase and the restorative phase. The first part (surgical phase) involves placing the implant (metal root) into your jaw bone. The surgery is normally carried out under local anaesthetic and is painless due to the very effective local anaesthetics now used. The implant is then given time to bond to your bone which can take from 3 to 6 months. During the time an implant is bonding to your bone a temporary crown, denture or bridge can be used. At the end of this period the implant is exposed by another, small surgical procedure under local anaesthetic to allow the second phase of treatment to be carried out.
The second (restorative) phase involves taking an impression of the implant which is used to create your replacement tooth. The restorative procedure and treatment time will depend on whether you are having a crown, bridge or denture retained by implant. For a single implant supported crown the total treatment time is normally 8 months to one year and involves 5 to 7 appointments.
what do implants cost?
Dental implants require a greater financial investment due to the material from which they are made, the highly specialised and precise components that are used and the extra care needed in planning and carrying out treatment. The cost of the treatment is dictated by a number of factors, including:
- the number of implants you are going to have,
- whether or not temporary restorations are needed during treatment, and
- the type of final restoration that you will receive.
A single implant supported crown usually costs from £2700 and usually takes 5 to 7 appointments.
what will happen if I choose not to have implants?
If you decide not to have implants, then you may consider alternative forms of treatment for tooth replacement. These will include dentures or bridges or accepting the spaces. The consequences of not having the teeth replaced will also be explained to you.
where can I get more information?
You can get further information about implants from the internet. Useful websites are those of the Association of Dental Implantology.