What are dental implants?
Dental implants are threaded sections of titanium that are placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaws to act as a support for crowns, bridges and dentures. They may be used in the replacement of single missing teeth, groups of teeth, or all teeth.
The success rate for implant treatment is greater than 90% (cigarette smoking may reduce this) and when successful, implants can be expected to last for 20 years or more.
Are they better than bridges?
Dental implants are stronger and more durable than their restorative counterparts (bridges and dentures). Implants offer a permanent solution to tooth loss. Additionally, implants may be used in conjunction with other restorative procedures for maximum effectiveness. For example, a single implant can serve to support a crown replacing a single missing tooth. Implants can also be used to support a dental bridge for the replacement of multiple missing teeth, and can be used with dentures to increase stability and reduce gum tissue irritation.
Why not just leave a gap?
When a tooth is removed, the space left willnot remain unchanged. Teeth are constantly moving in the mouth, and when one is lost the other teeth will drift into that space in a haphazard way. This can result in mal-positioned teeth, food traps, gum disease, poorly functioning bites, poor cheek and lip support, all of which can be difficult to correct at a later stage.
What does it involve?
Procedural advancements, including the development of narrower “mini” implants, mean that more people than ever before are finding themselves candidates for implantation. Whilst it is a minor surgical procedure, it is normally carried out under local anaesthesia and the majority of patients report no discomfort or problems once the anaesthetic has worn off. Some tenderness and bruising is to be expected, but it is far easier than having a tooth removed, and the area heals very quickly allowing you to function normally often by the next day.