For a long while, bridges and dentures were the only dental solutions available to people with missing teeth. Today, however, dental implants are growing in popularity and have become one of the leading dental procedures performed to close the gap left by missing teeth. Instead of merely covering over the space of missing teeth, dental implants replace the tooth roots and are covered by permanent or removable replacement teeth made to match the colour and spacing of your original teeth. These new teeth look and feel like your own teeth because they are permanently fused with your jawbone.
What is a dental implant
Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth so that you do not need to wear a denture. They are essentially a titanium replacement for the roots of your teeth. Your body will bind to the titanium implant in a process called “integration”. This 3 month process gives the implant the strength to support the crown.
Dental implants have been used safely for decades and can last for many years – they have become the gold standard for teeth replacement.
Dental implants can replace 1 tooth or multiple teeth. You do not need 1 implant for every tooth. Many times you can have 2 implants replace 4 teeth or 4 implants can replace an entire jaw. This has the benefit of simplicity and cost saving.
Other benefits of dental implants are:
They do not need to be removed so they are more convenient
Most natural in appearance improving confidence
Feels natural and allows for better eating
Conservative to nearby teeth(bridges and dentures can damage nearby teeth)
Can be cheaper than bridges or dentures in the long run(since bridges and dentures may need replacing over time)
Why Choose Dental Implants Over Other Solutions?
There are a number of benefits that implants offer over dentures and bridges. They are permanently fixed in your mouth, so there is no danger that they might slip out of place or cause your speech to slur. While removable dentures can be uncomfortable, you won’t realise that dental implants are there in your mouth – they actually become part of you as they are permanently fused to your jawbone. This makes eating easier and improves your self-esteem with a natural smile you can be proud of.
What Does The Implant Procedure Require?
Unlike bridges, which rely on additional support, your dental implants will not alter any nearby teeth. Implants work best for those who have good overall oral and gum health with adequate bone in their jaws to support them. Dental implants can replace anywhere from one tooth to all of your teeth. Depending on how many teeth are being replaced with implants, you may need to be on a soft food diet for several weeks while your mouth heals. Once the implants have stabilised and your mouth is healed, your new teeth will be permanently fixed in your mouth.
The following is the usual order and steps for placement of a dental implant:
Full assessment of your health and mouth
We need to thoroughly check and clean your mouth to make sure there are no other issues. Gum disease, infections, cavities can affect the outcome of the implant.
This will usually involve an examination, clean and dental xrays.
Special 3D xray of the site is taken
In order to place the implant a very careful assessment of the bone in 3-dimensions is completed. With this assessment we can see if there are nerves, arteries, other vital structures in the implant area. Your safety is an absolute priority so in order to prevent issues this is carefully assessed. We can then decide what size implant is suitable for you.
Special 3D mould of your mouth is taken
The latest technology now allows us to scan your mouth with a very accurate 3-dimensional camera. There are no xrays with this scan. It simply allows us to form a 3D image of your mouth so that we can print out a surgical guide which is used in the actual surgery. These surgical guides are extremely accurate and allow for the safe placement of the implant. They control the depth and angle at which the implant is placed and so they reduce surgery time, are safer and allow for much higher success rates.
Once your mouth is healthy, the area has been assessed and the surgical guide created you are then booked in for the implant. A simple single implant can be placed within 15-20 minutes through keyhole surgery with no pain. You will be given anaesthetic so that there is no pain. If you choose we can also organise an anaesthetist to come in and put you to sleep throughout the entire procedure. This is known as “sleep dentistry”.
Sometimes you can get the tooth on the same day, sometimes we need to leave the implant there for 3 months to heal. In the meantime you can have a temporary plate made so that you can have a tooth and not an empty space.
Patients can expect some swelling and some soreness after an implant is placed. Most of the times patients have neither swelling or pain. We usually review patients the following day and 1 week later. The vast majority of patients do not have any issues and are very happy with the process, healing and lack of pain or discomfort.
The final tooth is made after a mould of the implant is taken. This final tooth can be made on the same day or may need to be sent to the lab who will take 2-3 weeks.
There are many variables in dental implant placement. Each patient, each implant site is very different. Careful planning is required in order to successfully and safely place your implant. The materials used are of very high quality in order to achieve a safely placed, accurate and aesthetic implant.
How Do I Know If I Need Implants?
Nobody needs dental implants. The issue is many people can suffer terribly with missing teeth. Dentures can move or be uncomfortable and this can stop patients from enjoying the foods they like. Some people cannot tolerate dentures and begin to lose weight. The enjoyment of food is a large part of life and this can be absent if you cannot chew properly.
We often find that patients can lose their confidence with missing teeth. So in these cases dental implants can be the best way to restore health, function and confidence.
Dental implants have come a long way so if you have difficulty eating, difficulty managing a denture or missing teeth then dental implants may be for you. Age is usually not a factor in the successful outcome of dental implants.
Cost of dental implants
Dental implants can cost between $4500-5500 each including the crown. Costs can vary greatly depending on what is required to be done. For example the dental implant is placed in the jaw bone in order to provide support for the top part which appears like the tooth – known as the crown. If the bone is of good quality then the implant process can be straight forward and simpler. If the bone is not of good quality for example infection is present or not enough bone then further work would be required. Such work is often building up of the bone in a process called grafting. This can add additional costs.
Savings can be achieved if multiple implants are placed. If the surgery allows for multiple implants to be placed then this can allow for reduction in the fees since time can be saved.
Risk of dental implants
Due to improvements in materials, technology, technique and training dental implants are now much more successful. We now use 3D x-ray technology to carefully survey the implant site making sure there are no vital structures and that the bone is of good quality. We also use 3D printed surgical guides for accuracy and safety. It is important to understand though that every surgery has risks. These risks will be carefully explained to you so that you are aware of their likelihood and consequences.