What are dental implants?
A dental implant is used to support one or more false teeth. This is a titanium screw that can replace the root of the tooth. Just like a tooth root, it is placed into the jawbone.
Are implants safe and how long will they last?
Implants are a safe, well-established treatment. Implants, like natural teeth, will last for as long as you care for them.
How well you take care of 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 plaque coating similar to what you get with neglected natural teeth. If 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 the bone in which they are placed is healthy, you can expect them to persist for many years. However, just as with other surgical implants (such as hip replacement), there is no lifetime guarantee.
I have some of my own teeth. Can i still have implants?
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants - from a single tooth to a complete set.
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 in the area first.
Do implants hurt?
Placing an implant is often easier than extracting a tooth and is usually done with a simple local anaesthetic. During this time you will not feel any pain, but just like after an extraction you may feel some discomfort during the week after surgery.
How long does treatment take?
Your dental team will be able to give you a rough timetable before the treatment starts.
In some cases, crowns can be placed at the same time as implants (they are called "immediate implants"). Consult your dental team to see whether these are suitable for you. Usually, the false teeth (crowns)are fitted 3 to 4 months after implant placement. Sometimes the treatment will take longer and your dental team will be able to talk to you about your treatment time.
How about aftercare?
Your dental team will give you instructions on how to care for your implant. They may give you some painkillers after the surgery - or make sure you have some at home - to take over the next few days if you need them.
What happens next?
After your implants have been placed, the bone in your jaw needs to grow on to them. This usually takes several months. Sometimes implants may be stable enough when they are placed for the false teeth to be fitted sooner than this.
If you have one, two or three teeth replaced, you may have a temporary denture in the meantime. If you already have full dentures, you can continue to wear them while your implants are healing. Your dentures will need to be altering to fit properly after the surgery, and usually a "healing cap" will usually be placed at the implant site to protect it.
Are the implant teeth difficult to clean?
No. But aftercare is important if you are going to have a long-lasting and successful implant. Your dental team should give you detailed advice on how to care for your implants. Brushing around the teeth attached to the implants is no more difficult than brushing the natural teeth. However, there may be areas that are difficult to reach and you will be shown how to clean them. You may need to visit your dentist more often, but your dental team will be able to talk to you about this.
If I have gum disease, will I get it with implants?
Yes, if you do not care for them well enough. If you keep them clean and checking them regularly with your dental team you should not have any problems. Smoking also affects the health of implants. So ,if you smoke, you may need to take care of your implants more carefully. Some dentists will not place dental implants in people who are smokers.
Can I take the teeth out if they are fixed to implants?
Most teeth attached to implants can only be fitted and removed by the dentist. However, if you have removable dentures attached to the implants, you will be able to take them out for cleaning.
Do the implants show?
Most implants look exactly like natural teeth.
Do I have an implant for each missing tooth?
If you have single tooth missing , you will need an implant to support it. If you have a number of teeth missing and these are next to each other, you could still have one implant for each tooth. Or you may find that, if you have two or more implants, they may be able to support more than one tooth each. Your dentist will talk to you about the best option for you.
What if I have an accident?
The implants and teeth they support can be damaged by an accident in the same way that natural teeth can. So it is important that you wear a professionally made mouthguard if you play sports that involve contact or moving objects.
You may also find information about mouthguards useful. If just the crown are damaged, they can usually be removed from the implant and replaced.
However, if the titanium implant itself is damaged beyond repair, it can be safely left in the jaw if it is too difficult to remove. Another implant can be placed next to it to replace the damaged one.
What happens if the implant does not fuse with the bone?
This happens very rarely. If the implant loosens during or immediately after the healing period, the implant is easily removed and your jaw will heal normally. Once your jaw has healed, another implant may be placed there. Or the dentist can make a bridge ,fitting it to the implanted false teetht hat have been successful.