Chances are you’ve probably heard that dental implants are the go-to method of care for people with severe dental problems. Techniques have progressed substantially in the last few decades, which is great news for people suffering from poor teeth or lacking confidence because of their smile. Once cumbersome and extremely invasive, implants are now easy to place and they only take up about the same space as a natural tooth.
What exactly is a dental implant?
Implants are titanium roots placed into the mouth mimicking the way a normal tooth root is embedded in the jawbone. As a material, titanium is extremely biocompatible to the body and promotes new bone formation around a prosthetic root. In fact, implant roots are so strong they’re regarded to be even stronger than real teeth, once bone fusion has occurred.
What are implants for?
An implant is placed in an area where teeth are missing. They can be used one at a time for individual teeth, two at a time to support a fixed bridge, or even four at a time to support a permanent denture. Their strength allows them to support the weight of several teeth, meaning fewer implants are needed even if there are lots of (or all) teeth missing. Some dentists now offer ‘mini’ implants which are much smaller and are used to stabilise prosthetics like dentures, or replace small teeth that are not responsible for bearing much pressure.
What does dental implant treatment involve?
During your pre-implant consultation, your implant dentist will discuss types of implants, position options and any other necessary steps to promote successful placement. Some patients may need a bone graft or sinus lift prior to their implant surgery. X-rays and computer imaging allow your implant dentist to determine your bone quality and sinus anatomy. You will be provided with a customised treatment plan outlining all necessary appointments and procedures, step-by-step, so you’ll always know what to expect as work progresses from preparation to follow-up care.
What happens after I have implants?
During immediate recovery from having dental implants, you’ll need to avoid things like tobacco and carbonated beverages so the surgical site can heal properly. Depending on the type and placement method, your implant site may need to heal for a few months before taking the next step. After full healing and new bone formation has taken place, the top of the implant is exposed and an abutment is screwed into the opening of the implant root. The abutment supports the fixed prosthesis like a crown, bridge, or denture, which is then permanently cemented into place.
How do I care for my implant?
No special equipment or technique is needed to care for your implant: just a toothbrush and floss. It’s important to keep plaque away from the gum lines (just like any other teeth) so that gingivitis or gum disease doesn’t develop around it, causing the bone to recede. Your hygienist will use special instruments during cleaning appointments so as not to abrade the titanium surface, but otherwise your implant should be treated as if it were a normal tooth.
Are dental implants really affordable?
The cost of implants has reduced over time, since they first became commonplace around a decade ago. That’s because dental equipment and technology supplies are now more easily available, making the placement process more streamlined. Also, for procedures such as implant-supported dentures, as few as four implants can support an entire arch of teeth … that is, you don’t need 14 implants for 14 different teeth.
For the best result and least risk, choose an implant dentist with the experience and modern techniques needed to provide successful alternatives rather than only one type of implant placement. What’s right for one person isn’t always what’s best for someone else. At Smile by Design, we provide different treatment options for implant patients, allowing them to choose what works best for their own needs. Call us today on 1800 888 645 to find out more about how dental implants will help you. We also take appointments online and get back to you quickly.