What are dental implants and what can they do for me?
Implants are titanium replacements for missing teeth. They can replace a single tooth or multiple teeth. They are placed surgically in the bone. After a few months, they form a very strong bond with the bone, and then artificial crowns or a denture can be secured over the implants. For patients who have difficulty chewing because of missing teeth, or who are tired of their dentures slipping and sliding in the mouth, dental implants offer a secure solution for replacing teeth.
What are the benefits?
- Aesthetically, they support teeth that look very natural, greatly enhancing your smile and confidence.
- Functionally, dental implants allow you to eat and speak without pain or discomfort, and increases chewing efficiency.
- Biologically, implants can help prevent atrophy or shrinkage of your bone and this in turn supports your facial tissues.
What is the procedure like?
There are generally two stages:
Stage 1: An incision is made in the gums and the implants are placed into the jawbone. The gums are then closed up and to allow healing to take place. It usually takes just about 3 months for the implant to integrate with the bone or longer if bone grafting is involved.
Stage 2: The second and final stage is to secure the new tooth or teeth to the implant structure. Implants can support a single tooth, multiple teeth or dentures
Does it hurt?
Dental implants are placed in the jaw under local anaesthesia and so the patient feels absolutely no pain at all during the procedure. After the anaesthetic wears off, there may be slight discomfort, usually manageable with painkillers. In fact, many patients have reported that they didn’t even need to take any painkillers.
Why should you consider dental implants?
If you have had the experience of having lost one or more teeth, you may know all too well what it’s like to live with an unattractive smile, reduced biting efficiency, embarrassment from loose dentures, and pain or difficulty with eating. Fabricating a bridge to replace the missing teeth usually necessitates trimming down adjacent, sometimes perfectly healthy natural teeth. Dentures sometimes can be bulky, unstable or painful during function or speech. Over time, the bone at the toothless area can undergo “bone atrophy”, or loss of bone height and width. This can lead to functional and aesthetic problems. Placing an implant in the bone can prevent atrophy.
What is the success rate?
Implants as a solution to missing teeth has been practiced for a few decades. Generally, because of advances in implant dentistry over the years, dental implants can have success rates above 90% in natural bone. Having said that, success rates depend on many factors, for example, the patient’s own health status or whether he/she is a smoker. Although at the present time we cannot put a figure down as to the longevity of implants, it is known that the first patient who had implants placed in 1965 still has them in function today. Of course, regular checkups and diligently maintaining one’s oral hygiene is also of utmost importance in preventing failure.
How much do they cost?
Every patient’s need is unique. Your treatment cost depends on your particular needs. After a complete examination and consultation, your dental needs will be more specifically determined and the most viable treatment option proposed to you. At this point, treatment cost can then be more accurately ascertained.
Am I too old to have dental implants?
As long as you are generally in good health and have adequate bone, you can have dental implants.
How do I get started?
During initial consultation, x-rays are needed to evaluate the availability of bone. Impressions of the upper and lower jaws are then taken to be made into models so that the thickness of the bone can be gauged and a diagnostic mock up of the teeth is done so as to plan the position of the implant/s to be placed. Intra oral photographs are also taken as part of the diagnostic process. Once the essential information is obtained and treatment planning confirmed, first stage surgery can then be done.
How do I take care of my implants?
It is very important that patients who have dental implants maintain their own oral hygiene diligently. This of course includes brushing, flossing and sometimes using other cleaning aids like an interproximal brush. Regular dental checkups and professional maintenance are vital to ensure longevity of the implants.
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