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Implants

A dental implant is a titanium metal rod which is placed into the jawbone. It is used to support one or more false teeth. In practice, both the false teeth and their supporting rod are known as ‘implants’.


Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?

It depends on the state of the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will arrange for a number of special tests to assess the amount of bone still there. If there is not enough, or if it isn’t healthy enough, it may not be possible to place implants without grafting bone into the area first.

 

Do implants hurt?

Placing the implants requires a small operation. This can be carried out under local anaesthetic with sedation or with a general anaesthetic. You will not feel any pain at the time, but you may feel some discomfort during the week following the surgery. This is usually due to having stitches in place, and the normal healing process.

 

How long does treatment take?

Your dentist will be able to give you a provisional timetable before the treatment begins. Usually the permanent teeth are fitted 6 – 9 months after the implants are put in.

 

How soon can I have the new teeth?

The implants need to bond (integrate) with the bone after they have been put in. This takes at least 3 months in the lower jaw and 6 months in the upper jaw. Sometimes the implants may be stable enough when they are fitted for the artificial teeth to be attached much sooner than this. If you are having one, two or three teeth replaced, you will have a temporary restoration in the meantime. If you have complete dentures, then these can be worn throughout the healing period once they have been modified after the surgery.

 

Are the teeth difficult to clean?

Cleaning around the teeth attached to the implants is no more difficult than cleaning natural teeth. However, there may be areas that give you problems so you’ll be shown ways to help.

 

If I had gum disease when I had my own teeth, will I get it with the teeth attached to the implants?

Yes, if you don’t care for them well enough. If you keep them clean, and don’t smoke, then you should not have any problems.

 

Can I take the implants out?

Most artificial teeth attached to implants can only be placed and removed by the dentist. However, if you have complete dentures fixed to the implants by bars, then you’ll be able to take them out for cleaning.

 

Do the implants show?

Your dentist will make sure that the implants won’t show during all normal movements of the mouth and lips. You will need to be able to see them, so that you can clean them properly.

 

Do I have an implant for each missing tooth?

No, unless you’re only having a single tooth replaced. Normally, five or six implants are used to replace all the teeth in one jaw, as each implant can usually support two teeth. For a few missing teeth, two or three implants may be used.

 

What if I get hit in the face?

Implants and the teeth they support can be damaged by an accident in the same way that natural teeth can. However, if the false teeth are damaged then the remnants are left in the bone and may prove more difficult to remove than natural teeth. After healing, new false teeth can then be placed alongside the fragments.

 

What happens if the implant does not bond (integrate) with the bone?

This happens very rarely. If the implant becomes loose during the healing period or just after, then it is easily removed and healing takes place in the normal way. Once the jaw has healed, another implant can be placed there. Or, the dentist can make a bridge, using the implanted false teeth that have ‘taken’.

 

Is the treatment expensive?

Unfortunately, yes, however, in many situations, the cost of the treatment is only a little more than the cost of more conventional treatment with crowns and bridges.

There are advantages too. An implant to replace a single tooth avoids the need to cut down the teeth either side for crowns to support a bridge. Normal dentures often mean you can’t eat or speak very well, this is due to the dentures moving about, but teeth attached to an implant don’t cause this problem.

 


 

   

 

For further information about Implants, please download our FREE Dentist Guide - available at top right of this page.

 

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