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Dental treatments: Dental Implants

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Do you have a missing tooth?

If you have a missing tooth or loose ill-fitting dentures then dental implants could provide you with a viable and permanent solution to the personal and practical issues that can be caused.

Your ability to eat and speak (even your general self-esteem) can be greatly affected due to a missing tooth. Dental implants can significantly help to improve your quality of life - helping you to feel happy about smiling again.

Depending on your general health, implants are a highly suitable option for people of all ages - no matter what the condition of their teeth. For many people, dental implants are a safe, long-term solution offering strong and natural looking replacements which feel just as secure as their existing teeth.

Dental Implants - The Benefits

There are numerous benefits to replacing missing teeth with dental implants:

  • Dentures can have a tendency to move around in your mouth. Implants stay in place – helping to keep discomfort and pain to a minimum.
  • Dental implants help to protect the jawbone and prevent other teeth from moving around. They also stop food getting stuck in gaps and potentially causing gum disease.
  • Dental implants can help to greatly improve speech - as well as any problems that you may have when eating and chewing particular foods, yet they do not affect remaining teeth in any way.
  • The benefits with regard to self-confidence and lifestyle can be significant - particularly for those who feel sensitive about their appearance due to a missing tooth.
  • Dental implants are a well-established, safe and effective way of replacing one, several or even all of your teeth if required.

The risks of a missing tooth

The loss of one or more teeth can have a considerable impact not just on your everyday life but on your dental health too. Where teeth are missing your jawbone can start to shrink due to a lack of stimulation (which happens naturally when you eat). In the event of numerous missing teeth, facial skin lacks support and can start to sag.

Your teeth are meant to sit alongside each other in line. If you have gaps the remaining teeth can start to rotate or twist resulting in gaps or problems with misalignments. As well as this, food can be easily trapped in the spaces increasing your risks of developing tooth decay and gum disease.

How does a Dental Implant work?

Dental implants replace the roots of your natural teeth and support a manufactured crown or bridge.

Your natural tooth consists of two parts - the crown, which is what you see in your mouth and the root which is under the gum and holds the tooth in place. Dental implants are designed to best replicate this natural tooth structure - with the crown being made of porcelain to look like a natural tooth and the dental implant made of strong titanium acting as the root. Titanium is well tolerated by the body and once implanted in the jaw, bone grows onto the surfaces of the implant effectively fusing it to the surrounding bone - creating a solid and strong base.

General Health

Good general health is important if you want dental implant surgery. Patients with diabetes or who are heavy smokers have a greater risk of developing gum disease or infections following implant surgery. It is also important to remember to keep up a good oral hygiene routine after the procedure. If you don't clean your implants properly, they will develop a coat of residue, just like plaque which forms on natural teeth. If this is left it can result in gum infection, bleeding, soreness and discomfort.

Overall, the health of your gums and jawbone are the main factors taken into consideration before any surgery. If you do have less bone volume as a result of past gum disease there is the option of bone grafting or sinus lift which can be used to help rebuild any missing bone on the back of the upper jaw. In both cases, this would add significantly to treatment time as healing needs to take place before implants can be fitted.

How long does it take?

Where the insertion of implants is relatively straight forward it usually only takes around 15 minutes. A local anaesthetic will be given so you will not feel any pain during the procedure, although you may experience some discomfort for a week or two afterwards. If you are particularly nervous or your case is more complex, then a sedative may be considered. Overall, placing an implant is generally easier than removing a tooth.

Recovery

Following surgery, your implants will require time to integrate with the jaw bone. This usually takes between 3 and 6 months depending on their location. A temporary restoration or full dentures can be worn throughout the recovery process until it is possible to fit the final crown.

Every patient is unique and your requirements will be discussed with you prior to the start of any treatment. Long term care is vital and regular check-ups and other maintenance will be planned as necessary.

How long will they last?

Over 95% of implants are successful and with good levels of oral health and regular long-term care they can last for 15 years or more.

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