Dental implants

A dental implant is a replacement for a missing tooth. It is categorised at prosthetic dentistry although it is also viewed as a form of cosmetic dentistry.

Dental implants are an important treatment for preventing bone loss, which is a common side effect of a missing tooth. If there is gap between the teeth then what tends to happen is a failure of the bone tissue to renew itself which causes it to atrophy.

This can affect the shape of the jaw and your facial appearance, resulting in a sunken cheeked look which is less than attractive.

But this can be prevented with a dental implant. The implant is situated within the bone of the jaw where it stimulates new bone growth and retains the structure of your jaw.

This section discusses dental implants in the following way:

Dental implants have increased in popularity over the years and are seen as an ideal solution to missing teeth or are used to help fix a denture in place. In fact, dental implants are fast overtaking dentures and bridges as the preferred form of treatment for missing teeth.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a small, metal rod which acts as a replacement for the root of a tooth. It is made from titanium and is inserted into a drilled socket within your jaw to enable the fitting of a replacement tooth (crown), bridge or dentures.

A small connection device known as an ‘abutment’ is fastened to the implant which then allows the fitting of the crown or bridge.

Advantages of a dental implant

There are several advantages to a dental implant which include:

  • Attractive, natural looking appearance
  • No need for the drill or a tooth extraction
  • Prevents the risk of bone loss
  • Improves oral hygiene
  • Functions as well as a natural tooth
  • Mini implants are a good alternative

These are the most likely benefits of an implant compared to a bridge or dentures.

A single implant can support several teeth. The number you require will depend upon the extent of bone loss and your personal preferences.

Disadvantages of a dental implant

Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether to have implants or not.

These include:

  • Dental implants can be expensive
  • A time consuming procedure, especially if you require several implants.
  • The restoration (false tooth) has to be replaced after 10 years or so.
  • This is a surgical form of treatment although it can be performed under a local anaesthetic.
  • The implant may fail to ‘osseointegrate’ with the jaw bone

This is a complex and highly specialised form of treatment so make sure you find an experienced dental professional.

How is a dental implant fitted?

This is discussed in more detail in our implant placement section.

Can anybody have a dental implant?

Most people are suitable for an implant but there are a few exceptions. These include smokers, people who suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding), people with periodontal gum disease and anyone who drinks alcohol to excess.

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