Tooth loss is something that many of us will go through at some point in our lives. Gaps in your smile cause a drop in confidence and can leave the exposed gum vulnerable. There are multiple methods to replacing teeth, such as bridges and dentures. Implants, however, are the closest to your natural teeth. Dental implants return your smile back to full functionality and fill in any noticeable gaps.
Why have dental implants?
Implants act as artificial roots and fuse to the jawbone, providing stable support for your replacement teeth. Implants are made from titanium, which has a specific property where it can biologically fuse to the bone. The bone around it is stronger as a result, meaning implants can help strengthen the structural integrity of the jaw.
Even with dentures and bridges, the jaw bone naturally degrades without the teeth roots in place. Implants keep the jaw healthy, aiding your facial structure and keeping your new teeth in good shape.
Dental implants are an ideal and modern technique of replacing missing teeth instead of wearing dentures or bridges.
They are artificial titanium roots that are surgically placed in your jaw to support a replacement tooth or a crown which is designed to look and feel like your natural tooth, restore your facial profile and the aesthetic appearance of your smile with full functionality
Traditionally dental implants were buried under the gum to bond with bone for up to 6 to 8 months – for a process called “osteointegration” This technique necessitates the uncovering of the implant at a later stage.
Using most recent advances in implant technology Prof Ucer places the implants in a “one-stage” protocol. Single stage implants do not require a full second stage surgery to uncover them (however in rare cases implants may still be placed under the gum – for example when certain type of bone grafting is also carried out at the same time).
There are even situations where the implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. This treatment is known as “immediate implant placement in fresh extraction sites” but this may not be always possible ( e.g. in presence of infection) and each case must be examined and assessed for suitability for immediate placements.
Once the implant has been placed it normally requires a minimum of six to eight weeks of healing time before the artificial teeth (crowns) can be fitted.
Checking your jaw first
Before starting any implant treatment, your dentist will carry out a thorough assessment of your jaw density. Conventional implants in the top jaw need a sufficient amount of bone to support it. A CT scan will show how much bone is available and whether or not implants are suitable for you.
If we find that there isn’t enough upper jaw bone for conventional implants, we may suggest bone grafting surgery to replenish lost bone or even zygomatic implants for the upper jaw.
What does having implants involve?
Implant treatment spans across months with multiple appointments for each step. The wait is worth it as the end result is a complete smile that you can be proud to show off.
1. Treatment planning
Following from your initial assessment, we form a treatment plan. This will factor in any bone grafting treatments that we need to perform before placing any implants. As every individual patient case is different, so is the treatment length. Your treatment plan will set out the periods between appointments, giving time for implants to fuse and the mouth to heal.
2. Placing the implants
The procedure for placing takes more than one appointment. Once the implants have been placed in the jaw, we will need to wait for the bone to fuse. We will provide temporary restorations to protect the area and keep your mouth fully functional.
Once the implants are fully fused to the jawbone, we scan the site using our intra-oral camera to gather accurate measurements of your surrounding teeth. These are used to generate your replacement teeth.
3. New teeth
We’re able to create your new teeth in the same day that we take the scans, thanks to our in-house milling unit. Crafted out of ceramic, your new teeth are colour-matched and polished to look exactly like your natural teeth. We can then fit them in place and make any necessary adjustments.
Looking after your implants
Great oral care at home and in the dentist chair will help your implants last a long time. Just like natural teeth, implants can become vulnerable to the effects of gum disease. Severe gum disease can cause peri implantitis, which can lead to the integrity of the bone failing and so making the implants loose.
Your dentist, as part of your routine dental care, will keep an eye on your implants, ensuring that they stay healthy and effective while in your smile.
How long do implants last?
Modern dental implants have been shown to last many years (20- 40 years or more). Longevity of implants depend on many factors such as the general health of the patient, pre-existing history of severe gum disease and smoking. It has also been shown conclusively that dental implants require periodic oral hygiene and maintenance with regular visits to the hygienist. Failure to carry out meticulous plaque control could cause gum problems around dental implants in a similar way to gum disease around natural teeth. The research certainly demonstrates that over 95% of implants placed are healthy after 10 years but with good care and maintenance they should last longer.
The way that you look after your implant is fundamental to the long-term success of the treatment, but there may be other factors that may affect the long term success of dental implants. Usually these so called “risk factors” could be eliminated or reduced to a minimum. Your dentist will discuss any risk factors that might be significant in your individual case. The main ones are:
- A history of gum disease; this makes it more likely to get gum disease around the implant. Therefore any existing gum disease needs to be treated and brought under control before embarking on any dental implant treatment. The implant surgeon will assess the condition of your gums carefully before recommending implant treatment.
- Uncontrolled diabetes could affect the initial healing as well long term condition of the implant and the surrounding gum. You would be asked to bring your diabetes under control. The implant surgeon will liaise with your GP and may ask to see the results of your latest diabetic check (HBA1c results)
- Oral Hygiene; Poorly cared for implants are more likely to have complications
- A heavy bite or tooth grinding (known as bruxism) could result in breakages of teeth or porcelain restorations and loosening of implants or bridges. You may be advised to wear a night bite guard if you are a heavy grinder.
- Stress can results in prolonged periods of grinding and clenching
- Smoking; the research demonstrates that smoking is a significant risk factor, so we would urge you to give up smoking.
- Drinking; social drinking does not affect the process particularly; however drinking above the recommended weekly intake may have an effect.
- Poor bone and gum condition: in order to improve the long term success a staged bone grafting procedure may be indicated. This will help to strengthen the bone and allow the placement of the implant in the most optimum position