A popular choice
Dental implants are a popular choice nowadays to replace a single missing tooth, or multiple missing teeth. The implant consists of an artificial tooth root (the fixture), that an oral surgeon or periodontist (gum specialist), places into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or a bridge. The crown (visible part of the tooth), either a single crown or multiple teeth (a bridge), is then retained within the implant fixture.
Unlike dentures, dental implants are non-removable replacements for natural teeth. They are perhaps more rigid than natural teeth, but are the closest to a natural tooth in terms of feel and looks, compared to other treatments.
Dental implants closely mimic the look of the natural tooth and emerge harmoniously from the gum line. As such, they provide a durable and long-lasting solution, and far surpass dentures as the ideal option for the replacement of missing teeth.
Should I consider dental implants?
Benefits of dental implants include:
- excellent aesthetic “tooth-like” results
- restores function where you felt you might be lacking in chewing, since losing a tooth
- do not rely on adjacent tooth or teeth. If your adjacent teeth are not filled, it is more conservative to avoid relying on the tooth-next-door to support a bridge, as was the conventional method of treatment in the past.
- a “fixed” option, where if you feel your removable dentures are not stable and you experienced much difficulty in chewing. This can work for both partial and removable dentures.
- High success rate with proper planning and placement of implants
What is involved in getting dental implants?
- Treatment planning is the key to successful dental implants! You will require a full dental examination to examine the site for the dental implant(s), as well as the assessment of the whole mouth in general. Ideally, implant patients should have good quality and quantities of bone in which to seat the implant and have a healthy mouth free of gum disease and infection.
If you have been missing teeth for many years, you may not have sufficient bone to allow for the successful placement of an implant. In this scenario, you may require bone grafts to the area via procedures known as sinus or ridge augmentations. Bone grafts greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for a lifetime.
To be a good candidate for implants, you will need to have excellent oral hygiene. Implants are just like your own teeth and require conscientious at-home care. Normal brushing and flossing for the implant crown is no different than that for your own natural teeth. After treatment, we will work closely with you and periodic follow-up visits will be scheduled, in order to monitor your implant, teeth and gums, to ensure they remain healthy.
- The surgery component involves the placement of the implant fixtures in the jaw by either an oral surgeon or periodontist. A temporary replacement either in the form of a denture or a “suck-down”, will be prepared beforehand, to be used to cover the missing tooth/teeth gap, while the jaw is healing.
- Following the placement of the fixture, standard protocol (guideline) usually indicates a 3-month waiting period to allow the bone to fuse, or also commonly known as “osseo-integrate” with the implant fixture. A review appointment with the surgeon will be scheduled to confirm that the implant fixture is firmly fixed in placed. Once osseo-integration is confirmed, you will return for the final stage where the “crown” (the visible part of the tooth above gum), will be made and inserted.
- A mould will be taken of the jaw with the integrated implant fixture including form, shape and structure of the healed soft tissue around the fixture. This will be sent to our laboratory to construct a crown or bridge that closely mimics form and function of the missing natural teeth.
- Final visit for insertion of the finished prosthesis (either crown/bridge) and a thorough demonstration on the care and cleaning procedure, to help you look after your dental implants properly.
Common complications with dental implants?
Dental implants are not susceptible to decay like natural teeth, but the gums or soft tissue supporting the implant, may suffer from gum disease; also known as “peri-implantitis”.
Patients will usually complain of inflamed gums, swollen red gums, bad breath or bad taste in the mouth and bleeding with brushing or flossing. Occasionally some patients may also experience pain, depending on the severity of the gum infection.
Best course of treatment involves assessing the cause of the infection and work to resolve the issue. It can include cleaning the dental implants, oral medication, or referral to the periodontist for management.
This complication is more common in patients who may have had existing gum disease, smokers, or suffers from poorly-managed diabetes. This in no way excludes these patients from being suitable candidates for dental implants, but excellent, meticulous oral hygiene is essential, in giving the dental implants the best chance of success.
Other complications centre around the crown itself. Patients may complain of chipping of the porcelain of the dental crown, loosening of the screw that holds the crown onto the implant, or fracture of the crown-implant screw. Here at this practice, we minimise the risk of these types of complications by ensuring we work with higher quality implants and high-standard laboratories.
“The decision for a missing tooth replacement with a dental implant is not always straightforward. A holistic, patient-by-patient approach is adopted here to ensure that we assess your individual needs and ensure the best chance of success for your dental implants.”