Replacing Missing Teeth – Dental Implants
The best option available to replace missing teeth
This article discusses what implants are, why they are often a favoured option for missing teeth, and what is involved in preparing and fitting them.
Dental implants are the most successful form of treatment available for the replacement of missing teeth. They look and feel more like natural teeth than any other option available.
What are dental implants?
Implants are titanium screws which are so biocompatible that bone can grow onto their surface.
There are usually three parts to an implant:
- the implant itself (which is buried in the bone),
- the crown (which is the part that looks like the tooth)
- and the abutment (which connects the implant to the crown).
Dental Implants are screws which are screwed into the jaw bone. A tooth can then be screwed or cemented onto it through the use of an abutment (connector). Patients often ask for a dental implant, but what they really want is a tooth. An implant is only one way to replace a missing tooth.
The miracle of osseointegration
Up until around the 1940s it was believed that the human body could tolerate but not integrate with implanted metallic materials. Metal plates made of Stainless Steel and Cobalt Chrome were widely used at this time to repair fractured bones.
Then, some medical researchers, Bothe, Beaton and Davenport, found that Titanium appeared to fuse with bone and was almost impossible to remove. This fusion of titanium and bone was later extensively studied and named Osseointegration. It is because of Osseointegration that modern dental implants enjoy such high success rates.
The benefits of dental implants are that they:
- are a long lasting solution to missing teeth
- are very similar to your natural teeth in appearance, feel and function
- restore your bite by stopping the remaining teeth on either side of the space moving and rotating, which often makes it difficult to chew food efficiently
- improve the appearance of your smile
- reduce the appearance of premature ageing and wrinkles
- may help retain bone structure
From ancient origins to titanium
Dental implants have been around since ancient Egyptian times.
It is only since they have been made from Titanium Metal that they have achieved a high level of success and predictability. This began around 1960 in Sweden and Italy.
Type 4 Titanium is the strongest form of commercially pure titanium available. Some implants are made from Type 5 Titanium Alloy which is not commercially pure.
Are dental implants the right choice for me?
Dental implants should not be placed until growth has stopped, which is usually around 18 years of age. Most patients, who are in good general health with good oral hygiene, are suitable for dental implants although a thorough oral and medical assessment is required to make the final decision.
There are a number of factors that might slightly increase the chance of implants not working as well as they should, these include:
- lack of bone
- an active gum disease
- poorly controlled diabetes
- bisphosphonate medication
- poor oral hygiene
- certain systemic diseases
How long does it take to fit a dental implant?
It is possible to fit a dental implant in just one day! However, we would recommend you follow a slower path, which is more predictable and costs less. After all, this is something we hope will last you for a very long time!
Usually, we will wait 6-12 weeks after taking the tooth out before placing the implant.
When we place the implant we wait around 6-12 weeks for the bone to attach to it.
It usually takes around 2 to 4 weeks to make the final crown.
There are a number of factors that can cause the process of fitting a dental implant to take longer but in general we can complete an implant in around 3 to 6 months depending on the complexity. Or we can do it in a day in certain specific situations if you are willing to accept an increased chance of complications and expense.
Mini Dental Implants for Dentures
Many grateful denture patients have experienced immediate improvement in their quality of life and the confidence that long-term denture stability brings. Several different types of implants and restorations are available. The choice depends upon the amount of bone available, your general health and restoration preference.
Mini dental implants revolutionised dentistry with the introduction of a minimally invasive treatment option for stabilising dentures.
Mini implants were developed to provide greater denture stability for those who:
• Cannot withstand the rigours of conventional implant surgery,
• Do not have enough bone to allow for full-sized implants to be placed, or
• Are seeking an option with a lower cost than traditional implant treatment