Teeth that are lost through age, gum disease or decay need to be replaced for both aesthetic and functional reasons. Dental implants are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to dentures.
A dental implant – made of titanium – replaces the root portion of your natural tooth. It is anchored into a pre-drilled socket in your jawbone and can support a crown, bridge or secure a denture firmly in place.
Am I suitable?
Dental implants can be done at any age once the jawbones are fully developed. The most important issue is that you have sufficient bone tissue and your dentist or dental surgeon will ascertain that before embarking on treatment. If there isn’t adequate bone tissue then it is possible to have a bone graft.
What do I have to do to prepare?
It is crucial that your dentist checks the health of your teeth and gums and any sign of disease or decay must be treated before having the implants inserted. The dentist will also take several x-rays and even possibly a CT scan to assess the quality and quantity of bone tissue.
What’s the treatment like?
The whole process can take up to six months. The gum where the implant is to be inserted is cut and a small hole is drilled in the jawbone. The implant is then tightly fitted into this hole and the gum closed up.
Then the implant has to heal and – the most important process – integrate with the existing jawbone so it becomes strong enough to support either a denture or bridge. This can take up to six months so patients are given temporary crowns or bridges or continue to wear their dentures. Then a post is attached to the implant and, when the gum has healed round it, a permanent restoration is fitted to the implant.
What about after?
A dental implant provides a longer-term solution, slows down bone loss and preserves nearby healthy tooth tissue. If they are looked after then they can last a lifetime.
There may be some swelling and discomfort around the implant area initially. Once it has healed and integrated with the surrounding bone then you won’t be aware of it.
Are there any risks or side effects?
Dental implants have a high success rate, but rare complications can be nerve damage and the possibility that the implant does not properly integrate with the jawbone. It will then become loose and can’t support the dental restoration.
What will it cost me?
The cost can range from £1,000 to 3,000 per implant (including the crown that is fixed to the implant).