Dental implants are a great solution for people with good oral health who need a missing tooth or teeth replacing. Losing a tooth can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable experience which can affect people both mentally and physically. Whether a tooth was lost due to an illness or an accident, dental implants can help restore the patients smile and functionality of their teeth. Implants are extremely effective if done properly and with the proper care, can last a lifetime.
Costing around £1000 – £3000 per tooth, dental implants are not a cheap treatment. They take a few months to complete from start to finish and the price reflects the fact they require quite a lot of work from the dentist or periodontist. Placing an implant is a challenging task and as such not all dentists will undertake such treatment. There are many different types of implant system that require different techniques, equipment and training – most implant dentists will opt for just one system depending on what they feel is the best or most effective one. Different implant systems include Bicon, Astra and Nobel Biocare.
An implant is basically a replacement tooth root that is placed into the jaw as an anchor for a crown to be attached to. They are commonly made of surgical grade titanium due to the fact that this special metal is fully biocompatible and that bone can fuse onto it. For an implant to be successful it is important that the patient has good bone levels in the jaw and a healthy mouth – if the bone is too thin or too shallow, implants may not be possible to place. Also, if the patient does not have good oral health there can be a risk of infection from undertaking this type of surgery.
To check patients bone levels and make sure they are eligible for implants, an OPG X-ray and a CT scan is necessary. Once this is completed and assuming the patient’s bone levels are good, the implant procedure can begin. This starts with the dentist or periodontist carefully drilling into the jaw and placing a small cylindrical piece of metal (the implant) into it. Implants look a little bit like small screws, with a sort of thread on the outside – this will grip the bone as it heals over the implant and keep it sturdy and in place. After the implant has been placed, the gum is stitched up and the implant left in the jaw to heal for 2 – 6 months.
Once fused to the bone, the implant can be uncovered by re-opening the gum and a small metal post called an abutment can be fitted to the implant (sometimes implants already have abutments fitted so this step may not be necessary depending on the implant system used).This abutment will be the foundation for the crown to be placed on to. After it is placed, the gum is left to heal for a couple of weeks, after which the final process can begin – the placing of the new crown. This crown will either be made in a dental laboratory, or if the dentist has CEREC, will be made in the surgery! Either way, once the crown has been made it will be fitted onto the abutment and gently tapped down so it is secure – leaving the patient with a brand new, natural looking and feeling tooth that with proper care, should last a lifetime!
With all the different types of implant available, it is highly recommended that you speak to your dentist to see which one is right for you. If your dentist does not do implants, there are many cosmetic implant dentists that will be happy to give advice and undertake treatment – try looking on Google for dentists in your area. Be careful of adverts for cheap implants or dentists offering treatment for discount rates in Eastern Europe. Often these dentists use low grade materials and do not have to work to the stringent standards of dentists in the UK. When it comes to implants, it is definitely better to pay to get the job done properly rather than hunting for a bargain and risking a medical emergency!