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About dental implants


What are dental implants?

dental implantDental implants are essentially replacements for the natural roots of teeth. They can be used singly to replace one tooth or multiply to replace several or all missing teeth. Professor Brånemark started modern implantology in 1965 by treating his first patient. He had noticed in 1952 that bone grew in close apposition to titanium. He used this knowledge to develop modern implantology.They are therefore backed by many years of research and development. Dental implants are titanium cylinders to which the bone develops a close union. This is referred to as "osseointegration".The implant incorporates an internal screw space to which components can be attached. This allows crowns or bridges to be attached or dentures to be supported. Thus implants offer an alternative to dentures and bridgework or as a means to secure loose dentures.


How can dental implants be used?

Dental implants are a very flexible way of replacing missing teeth. An implant that is placed and used to replace one missing tooth could in later years be used as part of a larger restoration if other teeth were ever lost. Implants can be used to replace one missing tooth, several teeth with a bridge or a full arch of teeth either as a bridge or retaining a denture. The number of implants required and type of restoration will depend on the bone available, the number of teeth missing and the type of restoration that will be produced. For example six implants on the upper and five on the lower can retain a  full arch fixed bridge. To retain an overdenture four implants on the upper and two on the lower would be required.

How long will the implants last?

During the initial period after placement success depends upon good bone healing around the implant. Once the implants and surrounding soft tissues are seen to be healthy and the new teeth comfortable and correctly adjusted, it is the quality of your home care and willingness to present for regular maintenance reviews that will have most influence on how long they will last. Another significant factor is smoking.

When poorly cared for, implants will develop a covering of hard and soft deposits (calculus and plaque) which is very similar to that found on neglected natural teeth. Untreated, these deposits can lead to gum infection, bleeding, soreness and general discomfort, just as can occur around natural teeth.

Well maintained implants placed into adequate bone can be expected to last for many years. However, just as you would expect conventional crowns, bridges and fillings to need occasional repairs or replacements during their lifetime, your implant-supported teeth may also have similar maintenance requirements over theirs.

Prevention of bone loss

Whenever a tooth is lost or extracted a considerable amount of the bone that once surrounded the remaining root portion may disappear. This loss can be particularly rapid during the first few months and is described as ‘bone resorption’. Although the rate and amount of bone resorption is highly variable between individuals, it will always occur to some extent, unless specific care is taken to reduce its effects. Sometimes, the simplest measure to minimise bone loss after an extraction is to place the implant immediately or within the first few weeks.

What can you do if an implant does not work?

If an implant does not achieve or cannot maintain a rigid fixation with the surrounding bone it will eventually become loose and no longer be able to support replacement teeth. In most cases another implant can be placed immediately after removal of the implant or after a short period of healing.

How do I look after the implants?

It is reasonable to expect some of the daily hygiene procedures to be a little more complex than around your original teeth and to spend a little more time than you may have done in the past if you wish to maintain optimum implant health.

For the first few months the implants are in function your dentist may ask that you are seen more frequently, however once they are satisfied your treatment is performing as planned, ongoing care will be similar to any patient with natural teeth.