The replacement of missing teeth maintains the appearance as well as the functional integrity of the mouth. Missing teeth could be replaced by removable dentures, fixed bridges or dental implants.
Removable dentures are not well tolerated by the majority of people as they move during function, as well as being uncomfortable in many other ways.
Fixed bridges require grinding down of neighbouring teeth; which may be healthy ; to provide retention for the bridgework.
The gold standard for replacement of missing teeth in the modern world is dental implants. Whether you have one missing tooth or several; dental implants provide a firm foundation for the attachment of fixed teeth which look and feel like natural teeth.
Dental implants are titanium screws which are made to look like tooth roots. They have a threaded surface which is roughened to allow the jawbone to integrate with the surface. Titanium alloy is the only metal which can bond to bone.
Implants are very frequent these days and are used to serve many purposes. Replacement of missing teeth and provision of support elements to dentures are the main uses. Dental implants require the presence of adequate bone volume and good general and dental/oral health.
Dental implants could be used to replace one or several teeth by crowns or bridges and also can provide support for loose dentures.
Generally, Dental implants have no age restriction, so most adults would be suitable (over 21 years old). For dental implants to be successful; your general health should be reasonable (well controlled conditions included); and your oral health and hygiene must be of a good standard. Bone volume for the placement of dental implants must be adequate; however; if inadequate; bone grafting techniques could be employed to create adequate volume for implant placement.
Dental implants are 100% safe; the success rate of dental implants is currently over 95% in healthy, non smoking adults. The procedure is carried out using local analgesia (injection in the gum); however; for anxious patients; conscious sedation could be provided.
Smoking reduces the long term survival of dental implants; generally; heavy smokers (10+ cigarettes per day) are unsuitable and have higher rates of failure. There are no evidence available for the effect of e-cigarettes on the survival of dental implants.
Smoking cessation or reduction is strongly advised if you are considering dental implants.
Short term complications range from swelling, bruising; tenderness and soreness. These normally dissipate within a few days and are well controlled by post operative medications. It is very difficult to predict the extent of these as different individuals have different post operative healing capacities.
It is very important to choose a proper dentist. Go for someone who has experience and a great success rate in the field. Ask around or seek recommendations from friends or colleagues who have had dental implants. Please do not use the internet as the information could be conflicting or off-putting.
Speak to the dentist and seek advice; ask questions; and ask to be involved in the decision making process. Only make the decision when you are satisfied that you have all the information you require.
During the surgery; you will be numb; so you will only hear noised, but you will not experience any pain; As mentioned; if you are anxious; you could be sedated if you wish.
If you don’t have enough bone to support the implant, you may need a bone graft.
In some cases, primarily the grafting is done prior to the implant treatment. There are several materials available for the grafting which ensure the best environment is created for the placement of the dental implant.
This varies according to the type of bone (high or low density); and the type of implant used. Generally the integration is complete within 8-14 weeks.
Immediate loading is restricted to certain cases and is used when other temporary measures cannot be used. Please ask your dentist about suitability and if you require a temporary restoration while the implant is healing.
Good oral hygiene is essential to good healing. Visiting a hygienist every 3 months for scaling and plaque control is essential. Flossing or using interdental brushes is a must. Looking after your implant follows the same rules as caring for your natural teeth for a long lasting result.