What are dental implants?
A dental implant is used to support one or more false teeth. It is a titanium screw that can replace the root of a tooth when it fails. Just like a tooth root, it is placed into the jawbone.
A single dental implant is made up of three components, the titanium screw that is placed in to the jawbone, an abutment that fits within the titanium screw and a dental crown that is fitted over the abutment.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
A There are many advantages to dental implants, including:
• Improved appearance - Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. and because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent.
• Improved oral health - Dental implants avoid the need of having to reduce healthy teeth, in order to support a bridge. Because dental implants do not require support unlike a bridge, 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.
• Improved confidence & self-esteem - Dental implants can give you back your smile, and help you feel better about yourself.
• Improved comfort - Because dental implants become part of you, they eliminate the inconvenience and discomfort of removable dentures.
• 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.
• Easier eating. Missing teeth or loose dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat a wider variety of foods with confidence and without discomfort.
• Durability. Implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care, many implants can last a lifetime.
• Convenience. Dental implants can be used to secure removable dentures and to eliminate the need for messy adhesives to keep your dentures in place.
Are implants safe and how long will they last?
Are implants safe and how long will they last?
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.
I have some of my own teeth. Can I still have implants?
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants – from one single tooth to a complete set.
Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
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.
Do implants hurt?
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.
How long does the treatment take?
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.
What about aftercare?
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.
What happens next?
After your dental 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.
Are the dental implant teeth difficult to clean?
No. But aftercare is important if you are going to have a long-lasting, successful dental implant.
Your dentist should give you detailed advice on how to look after your implants. 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 often but your dentist will be able to talk to you about this.
If I had gum disease when I had my own teeth, will I get it with the dental implants?
Yes, if you don’t care for them well enough.
If you keep them clean and have them regularly checked by your dentist you should not have any problems.
Smoking also affects the health of natural teeth and implants. So, if you smoke, you may need to look after your dental implants more carefully.
Can I take the teeth out if they are fixed to dental implants?
Most teeth attached to dental implants can only be fitted and removed by the dentist.
However, if you have removable dentures attached to the implants, then you’ll be able to take them out for cleaning.
Do the dental implants show?
Most dental implants look exactly like natural teeth.
Do I have a dental implant for each missing tooth?
If you have a single tooth missing, you will need a dental implant to support it.
If you have a number of teeth missing, and these are next to each other, you could still have one implant for each tooth. Or you may find that two or more implants may be able to support more than one tooth each.
Your dentist will talk to you about the best option for you.
What if I have an accident?
Dental implants and the teeth they support can be damaged by an accident in the same way that natural teeth can. So it is important that you wear a professionally made mouthguard if you play sports that involve contact or moving objects. If just the teeth are damaged, they can usually be removed from the implant and replaced.
However, if the titanium implant itself is damaged beyond repair, it can be safely left in the jaw if it is too difficult to remove. Another implant may be fitted alongside it to replace the damaged one.
What happens if the dental implant does not fuse with the bone?
This happens very rarely. If the dental implant becomes loose during the healing period, or just after, it is easily removed and your jaw will heal in the normal way.
Once your jaw has healed, another implant can be placed there. Or the dentist can make a bridge, fitting it to the implanted false teeth that have ‘taken’.
Where can I get dental implant treatment?
Talk to your dentist, so they can refer you to an experienced 'dental implantologist’ for assessment and treatment. Your dentist may already carry out some or all of this type of treatment and will give you the advice you need.
Remember to ask:
* Exactly what treatment is proposed
* What experience the dentist has in this work
* The total cost of the treatment; and what the alternatives are.
Make sure you get a treatment plan, along with an estimate, and ask if a guarantee is included for your treatment.
If you are unhappy with any of the answers you get, then do ask for a second opinion. You will be spending a lot of time, effort and money, so you must be sure that you know what you are getting at the end of the treatment.
Can I get dental implants on the NHS?
Unfortunately not. Dental 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.
I have seen dental implants advertised for less than a thousand pounds, why are yours more expensive?
It is impossible for us to explain how other dental practices arrive at their dental implant prices, but to ensure you are comparing 'like for like' can we suggest that you ask them the following questions before you proceed to treatment:
- Is that price for my implant fully restored with the crown on it?
- How many implants has my dentist placed before mine?
- Is there a guarantee on your work?
- Is the implant itself made by a recognised and experienced manufacturer?
- Are there any hidden costs, such as X-rays and consultations?
- Is the implant placed in the surgery here or will I have to travel?
- What is the quality of your customer service?
- What is the quality of the physical environment in which the service is delivered?
- What is your protocol on after-sales care?
- What happens if something goes wrong?
- Will I see the same implant dentist every time?
Equaly we are also very happy to answer all of these questions very openly and we know that our answers will build your confidence and security.
A dental implant is typically made up of three components, the implant (the screw) an abutment, that fits into the implant and the porcelain crown that is fitted over the abutment.
Some dental practices advertise just the price of the implant component on its own and then add the price of the other components and services.
There are also numerous dental implants systems available on the market and they all vary in quality, functionality and cost.
The Straumann implant system that we choose to use is one of the leading dental implant systems available in quality, reliability and functionality, however it is one of the more expensive systems . As they say “you get what you pay for” and this applies equally to dental implants as any other item that you would purchase.
Who is suitable for dental implants and who is not?
Most people are suitable for dental implants, but there are certain groups of people who are able to undergo dental implant treatment but the risk of failure is much higher, for example with smokers.
There are also groups of people that are advised against dental implant treatment altogether. In these cases sometimes the problems that are preventing them from having dental implants can be rectified and then the success rate of their dental implant treatment is much higher.
People who are not good candidates for dental implants include:
• Young patients whose jawbones have not fully developed
• People suffering from tooth decay and /or gum disease•
• Pregnant women
• Heavy smokers and drinkers - smoking and excess alcohol impedes healing in the mouth and can reduce the likelihood that implants will be successful. However, this doesn't eliminate the possibility of getting dental implants.
• People with certain medical conditions.
• Patients who take certain medications
• People who severely grind or clench their teeth (bruxism) - these habits can place too much pressure on the implants and increase the risk of failure.
At your consultation our dental implant dentist will decide whether you are a suitable candidate for dental implants. In many cases, any problems such as the ones listed above can be treated before any dental implant treatment commences.
We believe that every dental treatment that we carry out should be in the best interest of the patient and should on the rare occasions our dentists feel that dental implant treatment is not suitable we will explain the reasons why, before suggesting an alternative dental treatment.