Dental Implants FAQs
1. What are dental implants?
A dental implant is composed of three key components: a small titanium screw that is inserted into and fuses with the jawbone, an "abutment" or post which attaches to the implant, and a crown (in the case of one implant) that fits over the abutment to provide a natural looking tooth that functions well. Dental implants may be used to replace individual teeth, multiple teeth, or all your teeth in one or both arches. In the case of a full arch, 14 teeth may be supported by as few as four implants.
2. What are the benefits of dental implants?
- Implants are fixed in place, and look and perform like natural teeth
- Implants fit precisely without slipping or the need for adhesives
- Implants preserve facial features, and restore a natural smile
- Implants avoid damage to surrounding healthy teeth
- Implants prevent loss of bone in the area of the missing teeth
- Implants and beautiful new teeth can now be placed all in the same day
- Implants can improve your appearance, your confidence, and your ability to eat the foods you like, and participate in an active lifestyle, without worry about your teeth
- Implant treatment can last a lifetime
3. How successful are dental implants?
Dental implants successfully integrate with the bone in more than 97% of the cases. In those few cases where an implant becomes loose, your implant surgeon will remove the implant and allow you to heal before placing a new one.
4. Can anyone get dental implants?
Almost everyone that has lost a tooth, several teeth or even all of their teeth is a candidate for dental implants. There are very few situations in which implants are not indicated. In fact, the dental profession is undergoing a great paradigm shift in that regular restorative dental crowns, bridges, partial and full dentures are starting to be considered obsolete, to be used only as alternatives to the effective treatment of dental implant supported restorative dentistry.
5. What is involved in getting dental implants?
Traditional dental implant treatment involves an examination and assessment by your implant surgeon, who will then consider all the possible options. He will then discuss the different options available. The implant or implants will be placed. Three to six months will be allowed for healing. The new teeth will then be constructed and fitted. The whole process will take between three and nine months.
There are also many instances when teeth can be fitted on the same day as placing the implants. In certain circumstances it may be possible to place the implants and new teeth on the same days as teeth are extracted.
6. How painful is the dental implant procedure?
This procedure, as any other oral surgical procedure, has some associated pain. However, many implant patients comment that they were surprised at how minimal the pain and discomfort of their procedure were, especially with sedation.
7. Who places dental implants? Where do I go for my treatment?
Dental implants may be placed by a dentist who has received appropriate training and has been assessed as competent to place dental implants. Your implant surgeon should have attended a recognized post graduate training course such as the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners at the Royal College of Surgeons Diploma in Implant Dentistry.
8. How do I care for my dental implants and new teeth?
Implant supported teeth need to be brushed and cared for just like natural teeth, though flossing will be different. As with natural teeth, you will need to visit your dentist and hygienist regularly.
9. Am I too old to have implants?
Age appears not to be a factor for dental implant success. Bone healing around dental implants occurs in patients from the 6th to the 10th decade of life with almost equal success as in younger patients.
The only thing to stand in the way of dental implant treatment in the elderly is general medical health. There are a number of medical conditions that can preclude treatment.
10.I have some of my own teeth. Can I still have implants?
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants - from one single tooth to a complete set.
11. Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
It depends on the condition of the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will arrange for a number of special tests to find out the amount of bone still there. If there is not enough, or if it isn't healthy enough, it may not be possible to place implants without grafting bone into the area first.
12. Are implants safe and how long will they last?
Implants are a safe, well-established, tried-and-tested treatment. It's probably true to say that implants, much like natural teeth, will last for as long as you care for them.
How well you look after your implants - and whether you go for your regular maintenance appointments - will have the biggest impact on how long they will last.
If you don't look after your implants they will develop a coating similar to that found on neglected natural teeth. Left untreated, this can lead to gum infection, bleeding, soreness and general discomfort. You could get all these problems with natural teeth.
If your implants are well looked after, and if the bone they are fitted to is strong and healthy, you can expect them to last for many years. However, just as with other surgical implants (such as a hip replacement) there is no lifetime guarantee.