Dental implants are the modern alternative to dentures. Implant techniques allow a permanent tooth replacement option that is functional, permanent and indistinguishable from natural teeth. Implants are titanium screws inserted into the jaw bone to which a dental prosthesis (false tooth) is attached. Implants can be used for single or multiple tooth replacement to cater for individual needs.
Individual tooth replacement
A missing tooth can be problematical from both a medical and aesthetic point of view. Without healthy teeth in the jaw, the bone resorbs (thins) over time and can lead to fracture. An implant replaces normal tooth roots and considerably reduces the likelihood of bone resorption. It accomplishes this through a process of osseointegration (adherence of bone to the implant). Aesthetic considerations are a major advantage of implants over conventional plate-mounted prostheses. Implants provide a permanent replacement that looks, feels and behaves like a natural tooth.
Multiple tooth replacement
Implants can be used to support bridge mounted prostheses (usually three or four false teeth) and/or complete dentures. As with single teeth, implants offer many advantages when compared with traditional techniques. As well as reducing bone resorption, implant supported bridges and dentures do not need to be anchored to surrounding teeth or the gum, resulting in a better fit, less irritation and more accurate occlusion (meeting of the teeth).
How are implants inserted?
Implant treatment is normally a three-stage procedure involving your Dentist/Prosthodontist and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. Following initial consultations with both practitioners, a date will be made to insert the implant into your jaw by your Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. Sometimes bone grafting of the site is necessary to ensure success of the implants which would require an operation before the insertion of the implant/s.
After implant insertion, the implants are left to osseointegrate for a minimum of three months. After such time, the implants are uncovered and healing abutments are connected and remain for two weeks to ensure a natural gum seal around the tooth. Following this, your dentist/prosthodontist can attach your new tooth/teeth. If you are presently wearing a denture, this denture can be modified such that it can be worn during the osseointegration period.
Due to a multitude of variables, implant feasibility and treatment differences, surgical plans are tailored to individual patients after initial consultation.
NB: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.