Dental implants – FAQs
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is essentially a substitute for a natural root and commonly it is screw or cylinder shaped. Dental implants are usually made of titanium, a metal that is well-tolerated by the body. Over time, the jawbone becomes firmly united with the implant. A small attachment at the top of the implant emerges through the gum. Crowns, bridges or dentures can then be attached to the implant by screws or clips.
Why have dental implants?
- When teeth are lost, the jawbone may start to shrink. Implants can help slow this process down. In addition, replacing missing teeth with natural looking implants will help with eating, talking and overall self-confidence.
- Dental implants are an alternative to conventional bridges and partial dentures.
- If you find that your full dentures are loose or move around a lot, implants will help to anchor the denture in place.
- Your dentist may recommend using implants to support a bridge rather than cut into healthy teeth either side of a gap.
Replacing missing teeth is essential to your overall dental hygiene, as a gap leaves the remaining teeth unsupported. If left unsupported, the remaining teeth may drift, reducing the spaces between them, which will make them weaker and brushing and flossing more difficult. Missing teeth can change the shape of your face, making you look older and less healthy.
Who is suitable for dental implants?
While increasingly popular, implants are not appropriate for everyone. You need to be medically fit and have healthy gums and a sufficient thickness of jawbone. Our implant surgeon will 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.
If I do not have enough bone, what can be done?
Bone substitution is a term that is used to describe the procedure to “build” bone so that dental implants can be placed. These procedures typically involve grafting (adding) bone or bonelike materials to the jaw, and waiting for the grafted material to fuse with the existing bone over several months. After a bone-substitution procedure, we usually wait 6 – 8 months before placing implants.
What is a ‘sinus lift’?
It is possible to increase the height of bone available in the upper jaw, above the back teeth. This procedure is called sinus augmentation or sinus lift and involves lifting the sinus membrane and completing the gained space by bonelike material. Without this process many patients would be unable to have dental implants in a part of the mouth where teeth are so commonly missing.
How long does it take to receive dental implants?
From the time of implant placement to the time of placing the first teeth, treatment times can vary between 2 weeks and 8 months. Our clinician will give you a personalised timetable before the treatment begins. See our ‘Stages of Treatment‘ page for more details.
Will I be toothless at any point in the treatment?
Between operations you will not be left toothless but will be fitted with temporary teeth.
What else can be placed on dental implants?
If you have no teeth in the lower jaw and are not yet ready for multiple implant placements, a conventional lower denture can be improved considerably with two dental implants placed beneath the front section. This is called an ‘overdenture’ or retained denture. The same overdenture concept when used to treat the upper jaw, will usually require more dental implants as the bone is generally softer.
Implant-supported overdentures, just like conventional dentures, are still removed for daily cleaning. However, once back in the mouth, the dental implants make them much more stable.
What else can be placed on dental implants?
To help maintain your dental implants you need to thoroughly bruch and floss regularly. Our implant surgeon will give you specific advice on caring for your dental implants and ask you to attend regular check-ups.
What are the risks of receiving dental implants?
Implant surgery is a safe procedure; however, as all surgeries, it carries an element of risk. Before deciding whether or not to have dental implants, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications. Smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes may effect tissue healing and may limit the success of the implant. Our clinicians will advise you so you can make an informed decision.
What are the possible side effects of receiving dental implants?
Examples of side-effects include feeling sick as a result of the anesthesia or sedation and some swelling and discomfort around the implant area.
What complications can occur?
The complications of any surgical procedure can include excessive bleeding or an unexpected reaction to the anesthetic or infection. If necessary you will be prescribed antibiotics and an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce the risk of your implant becoming infected.
Your lower jaw contains nerves, which supply feeling to your tongue, chin, lower lip and lower teeth. In a small percentage of cases during implant surgery in the lower jaw the nerves may be bruised and may cause a tingling or numb feeling in your tongue, chin or lip. The chance of complications depends on the exact type of procedure you are having and other factors such as your general health.
If you have any further questions about dental implants, please do not hesitate to contact us.