Dental implants are a treatment solution for patients who have lost a tooth or teeth due to tooth decay, gum disease or oral injury. Tooth loss not only affects how we eat and speak, but it can also affect self-image and general confidence. Dental implant treatment is aimed at providing secure replacement teeth to ensure proper bite function, facial form and a confident smile.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants consist of titanium posts, abutments and a prosthetic, which serve as both replacement tooth roots and teeth. Implants are securely fitted within the jawbone structure, naturally fusing with existing bone structure through a process of osseointegration. The titanium tooth roots act as a permanent fixture for dental crowns, dentures and bridges.
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Patients who have lost a tooth or teeth due to oral trauma may be suitable candidates for dental implants. Dental implant dentists (or implantologists) examine the jawbone to decide whether the patient is suitable for treatment. If the jawbone is too narrow a bone graft may be necessary to build up the jawbone structure before treatment commences.
Some patients may need to have their maxillary sinus lining separated from the jawbone, which is done via a sinus lift procedure prior to implant treatment. A sinus lift may be combined with bone grafting procedures to prepare bone surfaces for implants and bone fusion. Once a patient’s oral and facial structure is evaluated during diagnostic testing, the dental implant surgeon will recommend the best route of treatment for the patient.
Patients are first assessed on their suitability for dental implants. Oral dimensions and conditions are tested using diagnostic tools, such as CT Scans, 3D X-ray imaging, radiographs and bite impressions. These enable dental implant dentists to obtain patient-specific measurements of the jawbone and oral facial tissue, thus promoting the accurate placement of dental implants.
The structure of a patient’s jaw is assessed, as is the proximity of the sinus region, to determine if other treatments are necessary prior to the implant procedure. The bone density and resorption ability are also evaluated. If it is established that dental implants are an appropriate treatment, the site is prepared and cleaned.
The basic dental implant procedure involves a small incision being made in the gum line at the exact point where the dental implant post will be inserted. The gum tissue is then lifted or removed, and the jawbone will be gently drilled and the titanium implant post inserted. The drill size may be adjusted according to the type of abutment or implant post used.
The dental implant and jawbone need time to fuse together before a final tooth replacement is fitted. Osseointegration is vital for the success of dental implant treatment, with the time of healing and bone fusion ranging from six weeks to six months.
Depending on the stages involved in surgery, such as whether a bone graft or sinus lift is necessary, treatment and healing times may vary. However, immediately loaded mini dental implants can provide tooth replacement and restoration within one surgery.
The chewing sensation of the dental implant may feel different because the implant is not attached to the periodontal ligament as with natural teeth. However, this initial sensation will shortly become unnoticeable.
Dental implants allow tooth movement without direction or reciprocal action, offering secure anchorage to ensure replacement tooth prostheses such as crowns, bridges and dentures do not slip or shift during oral function.
Replacement teeth fitted to dental implants are made to resemble healthy teeth. These teeth are cosmetically symmetrical and create a stunning smile. Those with dental implants experience greater confidence and enhanced self-esteem. Dental implants do not interfere with daily oral function and look the same as normal teeth.
As with all surgical procedures there are risks, such as bleeding, bruising, infection and nausea. After dental implant treatment patients may experience temporary side-effects and slight discomfort. These affects soon pass and patients will then experience the benefits of their dental implants. After treatment normal oral function may be resumed for eating, drinking and speaking.
In contrast to long drawn-out traditional implant methods, innovative and advanced technology and procedures now allow patients to receive dental implants as “Same Day Teeth”. On a global scale there are more than 100 different implant systems in use.
Recognised and trusted brands of dental implants are produced by Nobel Biocare, Camlog and Straumann. These companies develop their dental implant systems using rigorous scientific testing. Nobel Biocare produces dental implant systems for single and multi-tooth installation. Dentists are able to provide solutions for patients with different dental implant needs. German-founded Camlog’s dental implant system optimises implant surface for stability and durability. The company and brand is trusted for reliable implantology care.
Straumann produce a range of dental implant systems, such as SLActive and Roxolid. Considered highly successful and stable Straumann SLActive is a six week dental implant treatment solution, which optimises surface topography for enhanced bone fusion. Straumann Roxolid is a specialist dental implant innovation for patients with limited tooth space and a narrow or thin jawbone, requiring a smaller implant post. These implant posts are 80 percent titanium and 20 percent zirconium for greater tensile strength. Research into dental implant systems is ongoing to improve design, procedures and durability.
Dental implants may support a number of artificial teeth solutions, such as porcelain crowns, dentures and bridges. Most artificial tooth structures are attached to the implant using the abutment. Overdentures are used when patients have no existing bone structure within the jawbone and are attached as removable substitute teeth. Bar- or ball-retained techniques are used to secure the overdenture to two or four dental implant posts.
Missing or extracted teeth may be replaced by either dental implants or plate-form false teeth, such as bridges and dentures. Dental implants are recognised for their stability and enhanced oral functionality. Full dental implants are considered to have a higher success rate than mini dental implants, which are used as temporary implants or as a cheaper alternative to full dental implants.