Dental implants are the latest method of replacing teeth that are missing or require extraction. They are made of three key components – an anchor, which looks like a screw, that is inserted into the jawbone, a crown that acts as a replacement tooth, and an abutment that secures the two together.
The anchor is made of titanium, which is extremely tough and durable. Once the implant is inserted into your jaw, a process called osseointegration takes place. This is where the bone that surrounds the implant begins to fuse it, strengthening it even further. It is not until this has happened that the replacement tooth will be fitted, but once in place, your new implant will be as secure as a regular tooth.
One of the biggest reasons that people choose implants is for their subtlety. The visible part of your implant – the replacement tooth – will be color-matched so that it is the same as your existing teeth. It is also a permanent fixture, so there is no need for unsightly denture removal and you can eat and drink as normal. Both of these mean that no one need know you have a dental implant unless you tell them.
Dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device at around 98%. However, a robust oral hygiene routine is crucial to ensuring their results for the long-term.
For many people, the idea of having a metal screw inserted into their jaw is absolutely terrifying. However, anesthesia is used during the procedure meaning that you shouldn’t feel any pain. Some swelling and soreness after is common, but this has usually dissipated by the next day, and over the counter pain relief is normally sufficient to alleviate any discomfort that you may feel.
If you have a single tooth missing, then you will need an implant to support it. However, if you have multiple teeth missing it is often possible for two or more implants to support more than one tooth each. This is often known as an implant-supported bridge and your dentist will be able to advise you if this is a viable option for your personal dental requirements.
The length of the treatment depends on the extent of the work that you need, but you can expect to make several visits to your dentist’s office over the course of a six-month period. Your dentist will be able to give you a more accurate treatment timeline based on your personal dental requirements.
Although dental implants have an extremely high success rate, it does in no way mean that they are right for absolutely every patient. If you are considering dental implants, then you will need to have a consultation with your dentist who will assess your candidacy based on your individual health and dental requirements. The idea candidate will:
Have great general and oral health
Have sufficient bone in their jaw to support the implant
Have healthy gums
Be committed to taking very good care of their teeth and gums
People who may not be suitable candidates for implants include:
Young people whose jawbones are still developing
Those with immune conditions
Those with uncontrolled diabetes
Alcohol or substance abusers
People who have received a high dose of radiation to the head or neck (for example, radiotherapy for cancer)
People who have a suppressed immune system
Dental implants are created uniquely to fit the specific requirements of the patient and as such there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ cost. While they may seem like an expensive option at first, over time implants are usually a more cost-effective and reliable solution to missing teeth.
You may find that your dental insurance policy covers part of the cost of your treatment, or you may be able to get additional coverage. We highly recommend that you speak with your dental insurance provider to see what your options are. Alternatively, many dentists are able to offer payment plans through third party providers.