What are dental implants?
Dental implant (aka endosseous implant or fixture) is an artificial replacement for the root of a tooth. The benefit of using implants is that they don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support and they are permanent and stable. It is made of titanium and is similar in shape to screw. The implant is surgically placed in your jaw bone and they make a bond with your natural bone. After that, a crown is attached to the top of the implant to replace the missing tooth. It will match your natural teeth seamlessly.
How is an implant fitted?
A dentist or periodontist will conduct a thorough examination of your mouth including taking x-rays or 3d images, discuss the various implant options and develop a plan for your implant surgery. It is needed to ensure you have enough of a healthy bone structure. Even if your bone is diseased or missing, there is still a possibility of a bone graft in order to make an implant viable.
Then the titanium implant is surgically anchored in the bone of your jaw where a tooth is missed. It is then left for between two and six months so the bone can grow around the implant. During this time a patient wears a temporary crown.
Once the implant is securely bonded to the bone, the temporary crown is removed and a permanent crown is either cemented or screwed into place.
What are the advantages of an implant?
Implants feel, look, fit and function totally like natural teeth. There is no need to remove them for cleaning, you can brush and floss them just like your own teeth. The result is virtually indistinguishable from your other teeth. It looks good and feels good.
Other possible solutions for replacing missing teeth – either a bridge or dentures – are not as reliable or natural-looking. Also, dental implants don’t require grinding down adjacent teeth to place bridges or attach partial dentures. Implants allow you to eat, communicate and smile as if you had never lost a tooth in the first place.
Implants protect your facial bones and your own natural teeth.
Am I a suitable candidate for implants?
To be considered for implants, your overall mouth health must be in good condition, without untreated tooth decay or active periodontal (gum) disease. If implants are fitted in the presence of active periodontitis, there is a danger that an infection will develop around the implant, which will lead to its failure and loss.
If you meet all the health-related criteria, your periodontist will discuss the various treatment options that are available.
The success rate of dental implants is very high.
A factor that can influence the success is your lifestyle habits. Smoking needs to be stopped before treatment and ideally after the implants are fitted. Smoking reduces healing capacity and can cause complications at the integration point of the implant, not to mention its other effects on general health.
Some health conditions and the medication required to treat them can also have an adverse effect on implants. these include diabetes, cancer, and gastric reflux.
It’s very important to discuss your medical history with your dentist in the initial stages of the implant procedure.
Maintaining dental implants
One of the greatest advantages of dental implants is that they require no special after-care; simply brush, floss and visit your dentist as normal. Good oral hygiene, healthy gums, and twice-yearly dentist visits are all your implant need to last. Though to maximize the lifespan of implants it is strongly recommended to avoid smoking.
How long will my implants last?
With proper oral hygiene, regular recall appointments and avoidance of smoking you can expect dental implants to last around 20 years. however, it’s entirely possible for them to last a lifetime.
*any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.