NINA’S IMPLANT EXPERIENCE
PAT AND DON
Dental implants are the wonder treatment of modern dentistry, replacing lost teeth and roots with artificial ones that look and feel natural, and because of this they have become widely used as the technology supporting them has improved. The success rate is now more than 95%.
As well as the obvious, they offer a cascade of other benefits: the artificial tooth feels and functions just like a natural tooth with, if anything, more biting power, it’s easy to clean and it supports the surrounding teeth. Implants also encourage and depend on the growth of bone mass in the jaw, which is good for other teeth and reverses the ageing effect bone loss can have.
Dental implants are suitable for most adults with good general health — they can only be used once the jawbone has stopped growing and so generally are not used with younger patients.
Habits such as heavy drinking or smoking can complicate the initial healing process and may be bad for the long-term health of the gum and bone around each implant, so some dentists will decline to place implants if smoking cannot be reduced or given up.
Although the surgery involved in dental implants can be complex, in some cases involving bone grafts, most patients report no more discomfort than they experience with standard procedures like fillings.
Implants are placed using local anaesthetic and in the case of very nervous patients conscious sedation is available. Depending upon the complexity of the case, the operation might take anything from 30 minutes for a single implant to several hours for bone grafting and multiple implant placements.
Patients can expect some minor swelling and occasionally bruising afterwards but no more discomfort than over the counter painkillers can deal with. Healing is generally straightforward and any stitches are removed a week to 10 days later.
A step by step guide to dental implants
A dental implant begins with either a referral from another dentist or a self-referral by someone who has suffered one or more lost teeth.
There follows 5 stages of treatment over 3 to 9 months:
Assessment and treatment planning
We’ll discuss the alternatives and assess the feasibility of implant treatment. CT scans allow a 3D image of the bone and surrounding teeth to be viewed, enabling us to asses the area in great detail and check the bone density of the jaw, taking away the likelihood of any surprises once treatment has started. As well as a painstaking verbal explanation of the treatment and associated costs, a written treatment plan will be provided and, where appropriate, finance arranged.
This simple surgical procedure is performed under local anaesthesia with conscious sedation for anxious patients if required. If the underlying bone is deemed deficient to support the implant and bone regeneration is possible it is carried out around this time.
Implants take from 6 weeks to 6 months to fuse with the bone, meanwhile temporary dentures or bridgework may be provided where necessary for eating and aesthetic effect. In some cases, temporary teeth can be fixed to the implants.
The restorative phase
The implants are brought into full function with one of a variety of new teeth options ranging from a single crown, bridge or a removable overdenture (a denture held in place by an implant).
We guide the patient on how to clean the new tooth and the neighbouring gum and natural teeth, with regular check-ups booked in so the health of the soft tissue, bone levels and the integrity of the restoration can be reviewed.