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Dental Implants

implants-pageWhat are implants?

Dental Implants are specially made posts that replace the roots of teeth that are missing and are used to support a new crown, fixed bridge or denture. They are made of titanium, a strong lightweight material that has been shown to be compatible with the body and safe for use.

Why do we need to replace missing teeth?

Our teeth are an important part of our digestive system, as they are needed for chewing food. They also play a role in speech and are also an important part of our appearance.

What are the advantages over conventional replacements?

The conventional methods of replacing missing teeth are bridges or dentures.

Bridges usually involve attaching false teeth onto our existing teeth. This may involve filing down healthy teeth to act as retainers, which may compromise the health of these teeth. Bridges can also only be provided when there are enough strong remaining teeth. They are however, a fixed restoration, although they are likely to need replacement every 10 to 15 years.

Dentures are teeth attached to a plastic or metal plate. They can work satisfactorily for some patients but they do have to be taken in and out every day for cleaning. It may also be difficult for some patients to retain dentures because the shape of their gums and jaw bone is not appropriate.

Although bridges and dentures can provide good service, implants usually provide better support and result in more comfortable and stable replacement teeth. They can provide better chewing efficiency and allow the patient to have permanent fixed teeth, without the need to file down natural teeth for support. Implants also slow down the shrinkage of our jawbone, which occurs as a result of tooth loss.

What are the known complications?

As in all surgical procedures there are reported complications. In implant dentistry, these are mainly either due to a failure of the implant to integrate with the jawbone, or due to damage to adjacent anatomical structures. The incidence of these complications is very small, and with careful pre-operative planning the risks are kept to an absolute minimum.

Where an implant does not integrate with bone, this is sometimes due to a patient having an unfavourable bone pattern or the presence of pre-existing pathology or infection. Often, the site can be left to heal for a few months and the implant successfully reinserted. The risk of non-integration is higher in patients who smoke, have poor oral hygiene, chronic gum disease or drink alcohol excessively.

Can implants improve my appearance?

The main reason for placing implants is usually to improve chewing function, but our teeth also play an important part in our appearance. Good aesthetic outcomes can be achieved with implants if a careful pre-operative assessment is carried out, and the correct case is chosen.
What is the actual procedure?

Firstly, a surgical procedure to bury the implant within the jawbone and allow the body to heal naturally. After about 3-6 months, the implants will be strong enough to support the teeth, which are attached to them. During the healing period, temporary “teeth” can be provided to disguise any spaces until bone completely surrounds the implant. This restoration may be an adhesive-type bridge or a denture.

It should be noted, however, that ideally a denture should not be worn for one week, following implant surgery so that no pressure is placed on the implant fixture during this time. In some cases an adhesive bridge can be placed immediately after surgery if neighbouring teeth can support it.

What is bone grafting associated with implants?

Successful placement of implants depends on the presence of bone of sufficient quality and quantity. This is not always present in every patient. A lack of bone is usually related to local factors such as how the gums healed after tooth extraction, rather than any general medical condition.

It was previously thought that in areas where there was insufficient bone it was not possible to place implants. However there have now been great advances made in grafting bone belonging to the patient or a range of artificial substitutes (eg BioOss and BioGide). I have enclosed further information on these products which are made from the mineral part of the bones of cattle and pig collagen.

How long does the procedure take?

This depends largely on the complexity of the case but most implant surgery requires a one or two hour appointment. You will be advised of your particular schedule for the different visits.

What should I expect during and after surgery?

The procedure is normally carried out under local anaesthesia. For patients who are anxious, intravenous sedation can also be provided. During surgery, the local anaesthesia and sedation practically eliminates all pain. After the surgery, there will be some discomfort, swelling or bruising but with the appropriate medication, it is usually not unduly uncomfortable. It may however be advisable to take a few days off work following your surgical appointment.

What is the success rate?

This type of dental treatment has proven to be very successful for most patients. Studies have revealed a 90-95% implant integration success rate. However, this does leave 5-10% of implants which do not “take to the bone”. If this was found to be the case when your implants are uncovered (Stage II) or there were any restorative complications in the 2 year period following the provision of these restorations, your treatment would be repeated at no additional cost to yourself. Unfortunately we are unable to offer this guarantee to any patient who is a smoker, or who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol (as the risk of failure is much higher in these cases). Further fees would also have to be charged if the implant supported restorations were damaged through trauma.


Costs

Following an initial consultation a personalised quotation for implant treatment will be provided. As a general rule however a single unit implant supported crown usually costs between £2500-£3000.

In order to assess whether or not implant therapy is the correct treatment option for you a CT scan may also be required, at the planning stage. This can be carried out in Sevenoaks, Kent or at CT Dent in Devonshire Place, London. The fee for this type of scan ranges between £200-450 depending on the complexity of the case.

Following completion of your implant treatment review appointments are usually arranged at 6/12/24 months at a cost of £90 – £150 per visit.