Dental implant therapy is a safe, medically proven, aesthetic and sophisticated alternative to the replacement of missing teeth with traditional bridgework and dentures. Because implant crowns and bridges look and feel more like natural teeth, they offer new levels of comfort, security and confidence over traditional treatments. For more than four decades, dental implants have been helping to improve the quality of life of patients with missing teeth.
When are implants indicated?
Implants may be indicated when one or more teeth are missing. Implants can also secure or stabilise existing loose dentures; this will improve your chewing ability and overall comfort.
How do they work?
A dental implant is a small cylindrical screw made of titanium that is inserted into the jawbone by a maxilla-facial and oral surgeon to take the place of a missing tooth root. After osseointegration (when the surrounding bone has healed onto the implant), a replacement tooth (crown) is secured onto the top part of the implant. If multiple teeth are missing, strategically placed implants can form the anchors for a bridge. These new teeth look, feel and perform similar to natural teeth.
What are the benefits?
Choosing dental implants as a treatment option can offer a number of significant advantages.
- Maintain anatomy: When teeth are missing, the bone begins to shrink over time. This bone loss can make the jaw line recede and change the facial structure. Dental implants can help prevent deterioration of the jawbone so the face retains its natural shape.
- Keep healthy teeth: As a better long-term alternative to bridgework (which requires the need to grind down healthy teeth when replacing one or more adjacent teeth), dental implants eliminate this inherently destructive process to natural healthy teeth.
- Long-term security and success rate: Securely integrated dental implants can last a lifetime if well looked after by you at home by normal brushing and flossing. They are not like dentures that tend to slip and move. This eliminates some of the key problems of dentures, i.e. gum irritation, infections, food trapping and pain. The result is superior comfort, reliability, and freedom from embarrassment. Although the implants in the bone can last a lifetime, you can expect some maintenance or replacements of the crowns or bridges, just like you would expect from normal fillings, crowns and bridges that are worn down or broken. Generally speaking, implants have a 95% success rate. This success rate is reduced in smokers and therefore patients are encouraged to stop smoking prior to implant therapy.
- Reduced stress: implants reduce biting stresses on the remaining natural teeth and re-establishes the balance in your mouth by enhancing your normal chewing and speech.
How is the treatment carried out and how long does it take?
This is generally done in three phases:
- Treatment planning: This is a very important phase during which we will do a thorough assessment of your medical and dental health (gums and teeth). We will also check your bite and take the necessary x-rays such as intra-oral, Panoramic and 3D scans to asses for adequate amount of bone to place the proposed implants. If teeth are removed, then we need to wait a minimum of 8-10 weeks before phase 2.
- Surgical placement: A relatively minor surgical is done to place the implant screws into the bone. Sometimes there is the need for augmentation of the bone and gums.
- Restoration of the teeth: After a three-to-five month period (to allow for osseointegration or bony healing onto the implants) the new teeth will be fabricated by a technician and we will place your new “teeth” in the form of crowns or bridges that are permanently screwed onto the implants.
In select cases, we can place the implants and immediately fit provisional bridges with teeth, which is known as immediate loading; this is generally only considered in full replacement cases when all the teeth are missing.