Implants » Dental Implant FAQs
- What is a dental implant?
- Who is suitable for dental implants?
- How will you know if you are suitable for implants?
- How long does treatment take?
- What should you know before you start treatment?
- How long do implants last?
- How do you look after the implants?
- Will I be able to eat what I like afterward?
- What costs are involved in implant treatments?
- How long will it take?
- How long will it last?
- Am I too old for implant treatment?
- Is the treatment painful?
Frequently Asked Questions
A dental implant is an artificial replacement for a tooth root made from titanium. The main aim during the placement of any implant is to achieve immediate close contact with the surrounding bone. Over time further growth of bone onto the implant surface enhances the stability of the implant. In order to support replacement teeth, dental implants have an internal screw thread or post space that allows a variety of components to be fitted. Once fitted, these components provide the support for crowns, bridges or dentures.
Dental implants are suitable for most healthy adults. Habits such as heavy drinking or smoking can increase the number of problems associated with initial healing and thereafter may be bad for the long-term health of gum and bone surrounding each implant. Some dentists may decide against placing implants in patients who smoke. However, each case is different and if you do have any medical problems then speak to your doctor or dentist prior to starting any treatment - it is only in some circumstances that health problems prevent the use of dental implants altogether.
During your initial appointment you will be assessed for the possibility of providing dental implants. You will be expected to answer detailed questions concerning your medical history and there will be a complete examination of your mouth and remaining teeth to discover the nature and extent of any current dental problems. Usually x-rays and study models of your teeth are taken so your case can be planned in your absence. These x-rays and models will be used to determine the optimal position for an implant, how many implants can be placed in the gap and the quality and volume of bone that is available. Establishing good basic dental health is a key stage in any treatment plan. At this first appointment you should be made aware of which problems are urgent and what treatment is required to stabilise any gum- or tooth-related problems. Your dentist will verbally outline how your particular implant treatment might be approached.
For routine cases, from the time of implant placement to the time of placing the first tooth/teeth, treatment times can vary between six weeks and six months. The availability of better quality bone can be used to decrease treatment time, whilst more time and care must be taken with poorer bone, which can therefore extend treatment times beyond six months.
You will be provided with a written treatment plan outlining the treatment proposed, the costs, and the alternatives. This summary would also include an overview of the anticipated treatment stages and give you some idea of how long treatment is likely to take, how many implants are required and what the fees are expected to be. There may be other factors which are individual to your case which would also be outlined in the treatment plan.
Once the implants and surrounding soft tissues are seen to be healthy and the new teeth comfortable and correctly adjusted, it is the quality of your personal attention to oral hygiene and willingness to attend regular maintenance reviews that will have most influence on how long they will last. When poorly cared for, implants will develop a covering of hard and soft deposits (calculus and plaque), which is very similar to that found on neglected natural teeth. Untreated, these deposits can lead to gum infection, bleeding, soreness and general discomfort. It could probably be said that implants will last as long as natural teeth. In the last decade dental implants have become widely used in mainstream dentistry and are usually the treatment of choice custom-made crown Dental implants are suitable for most adults with good general health.
Well-maintained implants placed into adequate bone can be expected to last for many years and possibly for your lifetime. However, just as you would expect conventional crowns, bridges and fillings to need occasional repairs or replacements, your implant-supported teeth may also have similar maintenance requirements over the years.
It is important that you maintain good oral hygiene with your implants to improve their life span. Cleaning your implants is not difficult. For most implant-supported teeth you will be able to clean around each supporting implant by brushing and flossing in just the same way that you would around natural teeth and tooth-supported bridges. In some areas special floss, interdental toothbrushes and other cleaning aids may be needed to maintain good oral hygiene. It is reasonable to expect some of the daily hygiene procedures to be a little more complex than around your original teeth and equally expect to spend more time than you may have done in the past if you wish to maintain optimum implant health. For the first few months the implants are in place your dentist may ask that you are seen more frequently; however, once they are satisfied your treatment is performing as planned, ongoing care will be similar to any patient with natural teeth.
Once completed, patients should be able to eat a normal, healthy diet with little or no difficulty.
The cost can vary, depending on the degree and extent of treatment required. The full cost is therefore explained and confirmed in a written treatment plan from your implant dentist.
Implant treatment usually requires a number of appointments over a period of months. In some cases, however, implant work can be completed in a much shorter period.
Once treatment is completed, a regular routine of dental hygiene and regular check-ups should ensure that implants last for many years.
There is no upper age limit for patients to undergo implant treatment, provided they continue to enjoy reasonably good health.
Patients are often surprised at how little discomfort they experience during and after implant procedures.