Dental implants are artificial roots for the teeth which are inserted in the patient’s jawbone in order to replace a tooth or hold a bridge or denture. Dental implants are made of titanium, an element that is fully biocompatible with the body’s tissues. The implant integrates with the surrounding bone and becomes part of the body.
Implants are an effective and reliable solution where there are one or more teeth missing. In addition to providing you with a more beautiful smile, and making speech and chewing easier, implants help correct the poor facial profile (aged appearance) that comes about as the result of loss and resorption of jaw bone mass. Dental implants prevent the loss of bone as they transfer the chewing force to the bone.
The loss of a tooth can have many negative consequences:
- shifting of teeth – when a tooth is missing, the teeth surrounding the gap begin to move and lean over, and the tooth in the opposite jaw ‘super-erupts’ such that it is longer than the other teeth, which is not only unsightly but can also cause food to be trapped when chewing.
- difficulty chewing – a missing tooth causes problems resulting from inadequate chewing of food, which in turn can cause digestion problems;
- loss of youthful facial appearance due to resorption of the bone;
- loss of support for the lips and cheeks;
- difficulty speaking, especially where front teeth are missing.
Am I a candidate for implants?
Dental implants are the best replacement for teeth for people of all ages who are in good health and who have lost a tooth – or more than one – due to accident, injury, periodontal disease or some other cause. You need to have enough bone to support the implant. There are some medical conditions that do require additional consideration. Certain chronic illnesses, excessive smoking or alcohol dependency may be contraindications for implants – however, age is not.
What are the benefits of implants?
Dental implants provide a completely natural look and feel in the mouth – it will probably feel just the same as before you lost the tooth! Perhaps you hide your smile because you are self-conscious about your missing tooth. You may not feel entirely confident with your denture. You may have difficulty chewing. If you are missing one or more teeth and want to be able to laugh, talk and chew comfortably and confidently, implants might be the solution for you.
Dental implants are especially practical for patients who can no longer wear (removable) dentures, or do not wish to.
The advantages of implants are:
- restoration of proper chewing and speech;
- cosmetic restoration of the face;
- prevention of resorption of the bone;
- increased satisfaction and self-confidence.
Are there different types of implant?
There are many different kinds of dental implant. We use implants made by Zimmer, a world leader in implant technology.
The implant placement process
- inserting the implant into the bone;
- healing of the gum and integration of the implant with the bone;
- taking an impression for manufacture of a crown/bridge or for stabilisation of the denture;
- cementing the crown/bridge or stabilisation of the denture.
After placement of an implant, a period of some 3-6 months is required for the implant to bond with the bone.
Once the implant and the bone have fused it usually takes a couple of visits over 5-10 days for a crown or bridge to be made and then placed on the implant.
Is the procedure painful or unpleasant?
Many patients have remarked that they found insertion of implants less of a problem than tooth extraction. The procedure to insert implants is done under local anaesthetic, and sometimes under sedation if the patient is very anxious. Many patients have commented that the implant procedure was much more pleasant than they expected.
Will I be toothless for any period of time?
There are several ways of temporarily replacing a missing tooth while an implant is integrating. Many people wear their old denture during that time. Some patients will have been missing the tooth for a while and feel they can manage without a temporary replacement for a few more months. For those who do not want to be missing a tooth during that time, there are temporary bridges which attach to the adjacent teeth or, if the situation in the patient’s mouth is such that a temporary bridge cannot be made, temporary dentures are made which the patient wears while the implant is integrating with the bone.
How long does the implant placement procedure take?
Insertion of an implant takes a couple of visits over 5-10 days, after which follows a healing period of 3-6 months while the implant bonds with the bone. After this healing period, another couple of visits over 5-10 days is required in order to fit the crown or bridge or to manufacture the denture.
Which implants do we install and why did we choose them?
At Smile Time we make sure our patients have the opportunity to get all the information they need about implants and the placement procedure before any treatment begins, in consultation with an oral surgery specialist. These consultations and examinations are free of charge, and we invite everyone to come and have them done, regardless of whether they ultimately decide on having implants put in.
Our surgery uses Zimmer implants. We decided on these because of their long, successful and clinically proven track record in dental implant surgery. Zimmer implants give excellent results, are of the highest quality, have the best success rate and also have the longest manufacturer warranty.
Price of dental implants
As with most things in life, quality comes at a price. At first glance the cost of having implants can seem high, but the lifetime saving is significant. We will take care of your implants and help you save money.