Frequently Asked Questions
A tooth implant, or dental implant, is a titanium replacement for a tooth root. It is inserted into the jaw to hold a false tooth, bridge or denture in place.
Dental implants can be used to fill a single tooth gap, to replace multiple missing teeth or a complete set (known as a full arch) upper or lower. A single missing tooth can be replaced with a crown fitted to a dental implant. If you have two or more missing teeth, an implant-supported bridge could be used or multiple single implants and crowns. If you have no teeth left there are two main options: a full arch bridge fixed in place using tooth implants or a conventional denture secured by two or more implants.
A dental implant is inserted into the jaw under the gum. The implant is usually left to fuse with the jaw bone before a false tooth is fitted. This process is called ‘osseointegration’. It produces a secure bond between the tooth implant and the surrounding bone, acting in a similar way to the root of a natural tooth.
Dental implants have been used in clinical practice for over 50 years and implant materials have been rigorously tested and documented for long term safety and patient health. Like any surgical procedure there is always some risk of complication, though much depends on the quality of the implant materials being used and the skills and expertise of the clinician. We would always recommend discussing the pros and cons with your implant dentist during your clinical consultation.
Dental implants can last a lifetime, so long as you maintain good oral hygiene and good general health. However, the crown, bridgework or denture they support may need replacing, due to normal wear and tear.
Patients who’ve had dental implants often feedback very positively about their experience: http://www.dentists4implants.com/patient-reviews/
Most people can have dental implants, provided they have a healthy mouth and good general health. Tooth implants are not normally offered to young people whose jaws are still growing. Smoking and drinking alcohol, plus certain medical conditions, can increase the risk of implant failure. Your overall suitability for implants will be discussed at your initial consultation.
Whether you can be treated with tooth implants depends on your general oral health and the amount of bone in your jaw. The implant dentist will carry out tests to check bone health and volume.
If your tooth root is infected, root canal or endodontic treatment may be possible. Where a healthy tooth is still in place, it can be fitted with a crown without the need for a dental implant. For missing teeth, the alternatives are a gap, a bridge or dentures.
Dental implants can provide a permanent replacement for missing tooth roots. The treatment is a cost-effective long-term investment. Bridges and dentures are cheaper in the short term, but have some disadvantages. Fitting a bridge usually involves removal of healthy material from adjacent teeth. The bone beneath a denture shrinks because it is not being used and chewing pressure reduces the blood supply. Dentures can be uncomfortable and cause problems with eating and speaking.
A single dental implant and crown can normally be used to replace one missing tooth. An implant-supported crown looks and functions like a natural tooth. A major advantage, compared to a conventional bridge, is that it does not involve any damage to the adjacent teeth. Filling the gap prevents undesirable movement of the adjacent and opposite teeth. To find out more, your next step should be to arrange a consultation with an experienced implant dentist.
If all of your teeth are missing, there are two main options with dental implants:
Option1: A denture held in place by at least two tooth implants.If you already wear a denture, it can be prevented from moving around by implant locator clips. The denture can continue to be worn and removed for cleaning as normal.
Option 2: A full arch bridge supported by four, six or eight tooth implants
A permanently fixed full arch bridge can only be removed by a dentist. A clip retained bridge or denture can be removed by the wearer for cleaning, but is not as rigid as a fixed bridge. The ANKYLOS® SynCone system [insert link] offers the best of both worlds. It provides a firm implant foundation, but can easily be removed for cleaning.
If you have several teeth missing and you don’t want to leave a big gap, the cheapest options in the short term are a bridge or a partial denture. With dental implant treatment the options are an implant-supported bridge or individual crowns fixed on a number of tooth implants. An implant-supported restoration will not damage the adjacent teeth. It will look and function the same as your natural teeth.
Most replacement teeth (crowns) fitted on top of dental implants can only be removed by a dentist. Where implants are placed only to prevent a conventional denture moving around, the replacement teeth can continue to be removed for cleaning. A full arch bridge can be either permanently fixed or removable. The ANKYLOS SynCone system is a great example of a dental implant base that provides a solid base for the bridge, which can also be removed for cleaning.
Implant treatments are a specialist form of dentistry and obviously don’t come under the same price bracket as a filling or a hygienist clean and polish. However, they can provide a life-long solution for certain dental conditions and can more than pay for themselves over a longer term.
Each and every dental case is different, and there is no fixed price for specific implant treatments. To understand the costs and benefits relevant to your own situation, we recommend you obtain a costed treatment plan from your dental professional or implant specialist. Many offer a free initial consultation and even monthly payment plans.
Dental implants can change patients’ lives. They enable people to eat, speak, smile and laugh normally. Patients who have benefitted from the treatment seem to value the improvement. See what some of the patients who have used this site have said: http://www.dentists4implants.com/patient-reviews/patient-quotes/
Dental implants are only available on the NHS if there is a medical need for the treatment. People who have never had teeth or who have lost teeth through trauma or surgery may be considered. Consult your usual dentist for individual advice.
Provided the general dental practitioner has had the necessary training, they may offer tooth implant treatment. But less than one in ten UK dentists has undergone the necessary training to place dental implants.
The most common dental implant treatments can be completed by your own general dental practitioner. You will be referred to an implant clinic for the implant placement, then returned to your own dentist for the denture, bridge or crown to be fitted on top. If your own dentist does not already offer this treatment, you can find a dentist who provides the complete service by clicking here
Nowadays, more than half of dental implant treatments can be completed in one day, which is known as ‘immediate restoration’. The full staged treatment process is as follows:
- Diagnosis, consultation and treatment planning
- Any preparatory treatment to remaining teeth, extractions or bone grafting
- Placement of tooth implants and fitting of temporary false teeth
- Healing period of six weeks to six months followed by assessment
- Final fixed crown or bridge fitted three to nine months after implants placed
- Regular reviews to maintain health of gums, teeth and implants
Treatment times vary, depending on the type of dental implant procedure. Implant placement can only take a few hours but the entire process can take several months to complete. The replacement teeth are generally fitted three to nine months after the dental implants are placed to ensure they have fused fully in the jaw.
Tooth implant treatment is generally carried out under local anaesthetic. If you are a nervous patient, your dentist might also offer an oral sedative or intravenous sedation to relax you during the treatment. Some complex cases will require a general anaesthetic. After your treatment, you may experience some discomfort but your dentist will provide you with all necessary antibiotics and pain relief.
You may be fitted with a temporary denture during the dental implant treatment process. If you already have full dentures, they can be modified to allow you to wear them whilst you are undergoing treatment.
Just like when you stop going to the gym you lose muscle, it’s the same idea for your jaw bone. If it’s not being used then it shrinks and the more time that goes by the more bone you lose. Implants placed into the bone, work the bone and slow down the shrinkage process. This helps you to keep your face, lips and cheeks supported and looking youthful.
The dental surgeon will advise you on what to do after tooth implant treatment. In general terms, you may wish to arrange for someone else to drive you home and avoid exercise for the rest of the day. You may not need to take time off work but you might wish to plan a day or two off as a precaution. Try not to have any big social or work commitments for a few days. On the day of surgery, do not rinse your mouth and only eat soft foods. Avoid tea, coffee, alcohol and spicy food. Brush your teeth, but avoid the tooth implant area and use a chlorhexidine mouthwash.
Looking after tooth implants is much the same as looking after your natural teeth. You should pay more attention to your implants and the area around them. To keep your implant teeth healthy, follow these simple steps:
- Brush twice daily
- Use a chlorhexidine mouthwash
- Floss regularly
- Have regular hygienist appointments