A dental implant is a prosthesis used to replace missing teeth. Essentially, it is a small titanium post/fixture that is inserted into the jawbone, on top of which a single crown (cap), a fixed bridge, a partial denture, or full denture can be attached. Once the implant integrates to your bone, a structure called an abutment is connected to the implant and then the artificial tooth/teeth are attached. Therefore, there are 3 parts to an “implant tooth”: the dental implant itself, the abutment, and the artificial tooth.
Most adults can have dental implants providing their jaw has finished growing, and they are in good health to undergo a surgical procedure. Anyone who is missing one or more teeth due to injury, disease or tooth decay may be a candidate for dental implants. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, however. If you have been missing your teeth for many years and the bone has resorbed, you may require bone grafting or augmentation before the dental implant procedure. The best candidates have healthy gum tissue free of periodontal disease. There are some medical conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis, or lifestyle choices such as smoking, that may need to be addressed before implant treatment.
Dentures are often ill-fitting and uncomfortable to wear, making it difficult to speak clearly and eat a wide variety of foods. Many conventional denture wearers have a restricted nutritional intake – even when eating alone – as they find it difficult to chew their food. This restricted nutritional intake can have a detrimental effect on their health and emotional well-being. With dental implants, your new replacement teeth are far more stable, allowing you to function as if you would with normal teeth.
Additionally, as dentures sit on top of the gums and are not anchored to the jawbone, they don’t stimulate the bone, resulting in increased bone loss. Conversely, dental implants keep the bone stimulated, healthy and strong.
As with any other routine dental treatment, we place dental implants under local anaesthetic. If required, we also provide additional sedation options to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. As with any surgery, you may be given analgesics and medications to ensure your comfort during the healing phase.
Humans are “blessed” with 2 sets of teeth (baby teeth and adult/permanent teeth). When a single permanent tooth or multiple teeth are lost due to dental decay or gum disease, dental implants can now replace them as the 3rd set of fixed teeth. Dental implants can last a lifetime and can improve your appearance, your confidence, and your ability to eat the foods you like, and participate in an active lifestyle, without worrying about your teeth. Dental implants are made of titanium and can never get dental decay.
Once a dental implant has successfully fused to the bone and is functional, it should last many years, if cared for properly. Many implants have now been in place for more than 40 years.
Dental implants need to be adequately cleaned and maintained just like your natural teeth. Although they are not subject to dental cavities, if not properly cared for, they can develop gum inflammation and even infection and bone loss. Brushing and flossing around your dental implants is extremely important. In addition to daily home care, it is important to maintain regular visits to your dentist who will be able to review and ensure the surrounding gums and bone remain healthy.