What are dental implants?
People often refer to a dental implant as a replacement tooth, but it is actually a metal post or appliance that replaces the patient's tooth root or roots. Once the artificial root or roots are in, replacement teeth are put in place and thus anchored firmly to the bone by the implant. The patient's new teeth look, feel and work just like natural teeth. There are several types of dental implants suited to various dental conditions.
What are the benefits of implants?
Dental implants are an alternative for:
- The patient who cannot function comfortably with conventional dentures.
- The patient who has lost teeth and wants to avoid removable partial dentures.
- The patient who needs a crown or fixed bridge but doesn't want to damage his or her adjacent healthy teeth.
- The person who wants to have the dental solution that is the closest to what Mother Nature created.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
Because of recent advances in implant technology, more and more people are implant candidates - although many people may be told they are not. The only way to know for certain is to be evaluated by a practitioner who has received advanced training in implant dentistry. Typically, if a patient is healthy enough to undergo fixed bridgework procedures or routine extractions, he or she can also undergo dental implant procedures.
What does the dental implant procedure involve?
Most implants can be placed by a trained dentist in one or two visits. Further visits will also be needed to fit the replacement teeth, which fasten to the implants. In addition, it is possible that some bone structure will have to be added to the patient's jaw or that other adjustments may have to be made. Tested methodologies now exist that can effectively and safely add bone where needed. This process can delay the placement of the implant for a period of months. Most insertions can be performed under the same local anaesthesia used for routine fillings. Medication so the patient can sleep during the procedure is available with oral conscious Sedation or IV sedation. Temporary teeth are usually placed until permanent replacement teeth are made so that patients can lead normal lives during the interim.
How long does an implant last?
Implants have remained in patients' mouths for 30 years or longer. We recommend a preventive maintenance program to help insure the long-term success of your implants and teeth.
How much does an implant cost as compared to other forms of dentistry?
The cost of implant dentistry is comparable to that of fixed bridgework or other advanced dental procedures in most cases.
Do implants require any special care?
Dental implants and accompanying replacement teeth should be cared for in the same way as natural teeth. Although they cannot get decay, they are still subject to gum disease in the same way natural teeth are.
Is there any chance of rejection of the dental implant?
The body doesn't normally reject a dental implant as it might a soft tissue implant such as a lung, heart or kidney. Dental implants are made of titanium, which is compatible with the body.
How long will I be off work?
Generally we recommend the day of the implant placement and the day after. Most of our patients are back to work the next day after implant placement. It's an individual decision.
What will happen without treatment?
When you lose your teeth, you gradually lose the bone that supportsed the teeth. As this bone shrinks, problems with a lack of support lead to increased discomfort, mobility, lack of retention of dentures, and sharp, painful ridges, movable gums and sore spots. The tongue also enlarges to accommodate the space. With tooth loss, a five-fold decrease in function occurs and the diet shifts to softer foods. When bone is lost, the incidence of numbness to the lower lip or even fracture of the jaw increases. In addition, this progression will affect our ability to provide the treatment we could have before so much bone loss. It could require more implants or more extensive treatment. Or,it may be possible that we will not be able to provide the same treatment we recommend now. At its worst, the bone loss could be so severe that the only way for the person to have teeth of any kind would require a hip graft (taking bone from the patient's hip).
Do all patients who want cosmetic makeovers get the same kind of teeth?
Absolutely not! Each person has a look they want for themselves and they have facial structure and skin tones that guide us in making individual selections that vary in size, shape, and color for each person.
Do I have to get my teeth capped to get rid of spaces between my front teeth?
In most cases capping to correct spaces isn't necessary. Today with beautiful, natural looking porcelain veneers (also called porcelain facings) we can easily make dramatic cosmetic changes to remove spaces, fix cracked teeth, do minor tooth straightening, and change the color of your teeth. In many instances, little or no tooth structure needs to be removed to create the smile of your dreams.
Is "tooth whitening" safe?
Bleaching procedures are safe and approved by the Australian Dental Association. Bleaching does not wear away any tooth structure or make a tooth more susceptible to staining.
Is gum surgery essential if I have periodontal (gum) disease?
We have found, many times, surgery is not necessary following a conservative course of periodontal treatment. This type of care typically includes a series of nonsurgical gum treatments. Even when surgery is required, it often is needed only in a few areas of the mouth and results can be greatly enhanced by nonsurgical preparation.
If periodontal disease is such a problem, why doesn't it hurt?
This is, unfortunately, a very good question. Periodontal problems can become quite serious and extremely advanced without any pain whatsoever. That is why it is so important to be attentive to the warning signs - bleeding gums when brushing and flossing, swollen gums, receded gums, teeth changing position, pus or swelling around gums - to name a few.