What are dental implants?
Dental implants are “anchors” that hold replacements for missing teeth. Imagine replacing the root of the tooth with a metal screw, thats essentially what you are doing. These are special titanium screws that are implanted in your jawbone to serve as the base for synthetic teeth such as implant crowns, implant dentures or implant bridges. Implants can be an extremely good way to fill a space that has been lost due to tooth decay, gum disease, or injury. Dental implants take a bit of getting used to. They are as good a way of replacing teeth that we have, though they do take a little getting used to (like anything!) They look and act like a normal tooth but since there is no ligament to your natural tooth then initially they will feel a bit foreign. You adapt very quickly and within a couple of weeks you just get used to it. Certainly much more comfortable than wearing a denture and you adapt far faster. Because the metal screws are buried, no one will ever know you have them.
Dental implants work by placing highly purified titanium screws in your jawbone. As time passes, your bone grows around it and firmly attaches to the implant through a process called osseointegration. Once it’s stable enough, dentists can then place a restoration on top depending on how many teeth are missing and what is appropriate for the missing space.
The implant material is non-corrosive and biocompatible so you don’t have to worry about the implant being rejected by your body. Like anything there are factors that influence success- supply/availability of good bone is one if the most important. They are a very safe and predictable procedure with a success rate of over 90%. Choosing a good surgeon to perform your operation is very important.
Why do I need dental implants?
In a nutshell to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Smiling is a powerful thing, and people are growing increasingly aware that being confident about their smile is very important. Many studies exist showing the direct correlation with happiness and all other manner of things- for example: it makes you more likeable or you get a better job that pays more. Yep! they have studied all of this. Unfortunately, people lose teeth all the time either by trauma, tooth decay or gum disease. Having dental implants at the front of your mouth to replace a missing tooth will help you feel more confident; there is always a fear when you have a removable denture that something may happen. It can help you with talking confidently in meetings, groups of people, or other gatherings (we all know how uncomfortable that is!). If the missing tooth is at the back and less visible in your smile then the implant will help improve your ability to chew and prevent movement of the other teeth or changes in your bite. It even helps prevent bone loss and to maintain the shape of your jaw.
May it be for functional or aesthetic purposes, dental implants can definitely improve your quality of life. They are pricey but they are a great way to replace missing teeth.
Who are suitable candidates for dental implants?
Dental implants are suitable for people who have healthy gums and adequate jaw bone to support the implants. Good candidates should also have good oral hygiene and general health. These factors will be assessed when you visit us in Maroubra. X-rays and CT scans will be taken to help him examine the width and height of the bone you have available to place the implant and the quality of this to support it.
Patients who need dental implants but don’t have sufficient bone available will require additional treatment such as grafts (bone or soft tissue) if they wish to proceed. This may be cow bone or harvested from an appropriate site on yourself- if larger quantities are required.
Dental implants are more likely to fail when you’re a smoker, there is a lot of evidence for this so you will be advised to quit long before undergoing the procedure. There are certain medications that can affect the treatment outcome such as immuno-suppresants, so you must make sure your dentist is aware of everything you are actually taking from your doctor and any conditions you may have.
How do I take care of my dental implants?
Dental implants are just like your real teeth- so treat them as such; you don’t have to remove them (as you would with dentures) to soak and clean them. It is important to not let plaque and calculus build up around them so flossing and using interdental brushes as well as regular visits to your dentist is important . If not taken care of properly, you will still be at risk of perio-implantitis- a process very similar to gum disease where bone can be lost, and with it the support for your implant.