If you have one or more missing teeth and you do not wish to have a conventional restoration (bridge or denture) then dental implants could be a solution. Implants provide a very effective and aesthetically pleasing solution which will improve your smile and self-confidence. A space resulting from a missing tooth could cause your remaining teeth to shift position to close the gap. It could also result in shrinkage of the jawbone, which tends to make one appear older than you are.
Dental Implants: Information and Considerations
Before the best placement of the dental implant can occur, two important areas must be addressed, namely:
- You the prospective patient must be well informed about our specific dental implant and have your questions answered as it relates to your unique situation and...
- Your dentist must be well informed as to your present medical and dental condition to best determine if you are a good implant candidate or not
What is a dental implant?
While numerous textbooks have been written concerning the history, types, shapes, insertion techniques. and efficacy of all sorts of dental implants; and as interesting as this may (or may not) be, for our purposes we will limit our information to a single, tapered and threaded, titanium "root" implant that is placed into a missing tooth site. The crown or "tooth" part of the procedure will be placed at a later time when the bone has healed to the titanium man-made "root". The system that we mainly use is a British system called Osteocare.
Why a dental implant?
There are three basic ways a tooth may be "replaced" to keep the dental arch intact. A removable partial denture (RPD), a non-removable partial denture (NRPD) or "bridge" where usually the two or more teeth adjacent to the missing tooth site must be ‘prepared’ to some degree, and lastly the dental implant(s) that stand alone to replace the missing tooth or teeth and do not depend on adjacent teeth for support.
What is insufficient bone?
When a tooth has been missing for some time the healing of the socket usually includes a “shrinking” of the bone. This shrinkage may be of a magnitude that won’t allow a titanium root to be placed and still have enough bone around it to secure healing. However, now we can have types of bone added to the bone site to give us the necessary bulk needed. This is called augmentation. Sometimes vital structures may be too close to the proposed implant site to allow for placement. The density of the bone may be insufficient to allow for good healing. All of these factors will be taken into consideration when your dentist evaluates you for sufficient site bone.
Are there risks associated with a dental implant?
Yes. Statistically one in twenty (1 in 20) implants will fail when the surrounding bone will not heal to the titanium “root”. When this happens the “root” must be removed allowing the “socket” to heal. Dental articles report cases where there is a temporary or permanent loss of nerve sensation following implant placement. This results in a numb feeling, but does not result in a sagging of the face because motor nerves are never affected.
How long will implants last?
This is a question no one can answer. Some implants have been functioning well for twenty years or more but this is not an average as so many factors come into play. Changing health conditions, genetic predisposition, detrimental habits. improper oral hygiene, etc. but it is comforting to know that if the implant does become unstable for whatever reason, that only it and not other teeth that it is “affixed” to are also jeopardised, because it stands alone.
Other frequently asked questions include...
No. Only health may be a precluding factor. Many people in their seventies or eighties are better candidates that younger people with physical problems.
There have been no instances reported in dental or medical literature indicating a dental implant as being the cause of a cancer.
They may be in certain instances when the treatment is extensive and a specialist is called in for complicated reconstruction situations. Your dentist will advise you about these special conditions. Our implant was specifically designed to be placed in single or at most double missing tooth sites with adequate supporting teeth adjacent to the site. For this reason, the risk is much less and chances for a good outcome are increased. Also, costs are kept down and are nearly the same as that of a bridge, but without the need to cut down teeth on either side of the site.
No. At this time, unless specifically covered in your policy, insurance companies will not cover implants. This will change in time. Sometimes they will cover the expense of the crown affixed to the implant, however.
As with any procedure where tissue is entered, there is potential for discomfort. But utilising local anaesthetic, the discomfort is usually minimal, if any at all. Most of our patients are very surprised by the comfort of the placement.
This varies of course as to the conditions, but usually less time than it would take to prepare the teeth for a bridge. Since with our technique there is only one placement procedure, including the impression for the crown, no follow-up surgery is usually indicated. Several months must pass, however, while bone is healing to the implant (osseointegration) before the crown is placed and the "tooth" becomes fully functional.
Generally we recommend on the day of placement, you can expect to sense some feeling of slight pressure in the bone and to the surrounding teeth for a day or two, but this should not affect going to work. If the pressure continues for more than 24 hours we need to be informed.
If you have decided that you want to be considered as an implant candidate, then please contact one of our receptionists at the practice on 0208 953 3827. They will be happy to arrange an appointment for you. If you have any questions not covered in this monograph. please make a note and feel free to ask any questions that you wish.