Dental Implants are the latest innovation to replace a missing tooth or a number of teeth. An implant consists of an artificial titanium alloy post which is placed directly into the jaw bone and acts as a replacement for the root portion of a natural tooth. The implant is made from medical grade titanium which is highly biocompatible with the body. The post may be specially treated to encourage new bone cells to grow around it so the implant becomes firmly anchored into the bone and is strong enough to support a replacement tooth. This integration process is called ‘Osseointegration’.
Dental Implants can be used to replace:
- One tooth – One implant will be placed and a crown will then be fixed on top of the implant.
- Several teeth – Either several implants and crowns will be placed or a dental bridge will be fitted onto the implants.
- All the teeth in your upper or lower jaw or in both jaws– A number of implants are placed, then either a fixed bridge will be fitted onto the implants or the implants will be used to secure a removable denture that will clip into place so it cannot move.
Who Can Have Dental Implants?
The good news is that dental implants are suitable for most people; provided you have reasonable dental and general health. Treatment can be especially good for anyone with loose and uncomfortable dentures and for patients interested in a long-term solution for tooth loss. We might not recommend dental implants if you have health problems that affect your immune system as this could affect osseointegration and may slow down healing, increasing the risk of failure. Diabetes is an example, but if you are able to keep your glucose levels well-controlled, then implants could still be a possibility. If you smoke then be prepared to quit, at least for the length of treatment and preferably for good as this is a habit that can increase the risk of implant failure. Every person is carefully assessed for their suitability and it is well worth asking to see if implants could work for you.
What to Expect During Your Initial Assessment for Dental Implants
Your initial assessment will include a check-up as we need to assess your jaws and any remaining teeth. Diagnostic images including dental x-rays and a CT scan are required to see your jawbone and are vital for planning this treatment. Your jawbone is particularly important as dental implants need to be inserted into a certain amount of strong and healthy bone in order to be successful and to be able to fully integrate. If you lost teeth quite some time ago or have had advanced periodontal disease then it’s possible you may have lost some of your jawbone. This doesn’t mean you cannot have dental implants, but you might require a bone graft to build up the bone to the correct level. We will also need to chat to you about your dental and general health and of course we can answer any questions you might have about this treatment.
Planning Implant Treatments
At the end of your assessment you should know if dental implants can help you and exactly what will be involved with this treatment. It is true that you will require a small surgical procedure but you can rest assured that we will do everything possible to keep you comfortable during this treatment. A single dental implant typically takes just an hour to place. If you decide to go ahead, your diagnostic images will be used to accurately plan your treatment so that when the time comes for your implant to be inserted the whole procedure can proceed smoothly and quickly. These images show our dentist the exact position of important structures such as nerves and blood vessels and sinus cavities which must all be avoided during implant surgery. By planning the implant placement in advance, we can make sure that it is inserted into exactly the right position, providing you with excellent functional and aesthetic results.
A properly planned and placed dental implant can produce beautifully natural results and just as importantly it will help protect your jawbone by preventing any further bone loss that normally occurs after your own teeth are removed.
What to Expect during and after Treatment?
We will take extensive care to make sure you are relaxed and comfortable during your implant placement. Once the implant is in place, it needs to be left to heal for several months and at this stage we can provide you with a temporary tooth or teeth to be worn during this healing period. Any discomfort after implant surgery should be minor and we will give you lots of information on how to care for the implant site during this time. Once the implant has fully integrated with the surrounding bone, we can make your new restoration. This will be handcrafted in our dental laboratory to create a beautifully natural looking smile.
With the correct care, your dental implants could last for many years or hopefully for life. This treatment typically has a success rate of 95% or even higher. However you must be prepared to look after them but this is pretty easy. All you need do is to make sure you brush at least twice a day and floss once-a-day and it’s important to floss around your dental implants to keep them free from plaque and food debris so the tissues surrounding your dental implants remain strong and healthy. Twice yearly checkups and professional cleanings at Werribee Dental Clinic are also highly recommended.
Please note that the placement of dental implants is a surgical or invasive procedure that carries risks. In special cases and before proceeding, you may be referred to an specialist for a second opinion and/or to carry out implant placement.