Dental implants are tooth root shaped titanium devices, which are placed into the bone once occupied by a tooth.
Once positioned, under sterile conditions at the practice, bone fuses to the implant surface in a process known as osseointegration. The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic and although some soreness afterwards can be expected this is usually minimal.
Once integrated a healthy implant can virtually be considered as permanent. At this stage, which can be anything from six weeks to four months after the implant is placed, it is uncovered and a special post called an abutment is attached. A porcelain crown or bridge can then be made for the post and subsequently cemented into position. In some situations a post and provisional crown can be attached to the implant at the time of the surgery.
The main advantages of dental implants are that if kept healthy they are permanent and the adjacent teeth are not touched in any way. Dental implant treatment is extremely predictable with success rates in excess of 95% and is now seen as the ideal solution and first choice for replacing missing teeth.
The 3 phases for dental implant treatment are as follows:
Phase 1 – Diagnosis and treatment planning
Phase 2 – Implant surgery
The dental implants are placed very carefully into the appropriate positions as planned. The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic under strict sterile conditions.
Phase 3 – Implant restoration
Depending on how the implant has been left, buried in the gum or protruding through, the next stage involves exposing the implant and fitting a special attachment, which enables us to take accurate impressions of the implant position. This may involve exposing the implant with a second minor surgical procedure, with impressions being taken after a further short period for the gum to heal, usually 2-3 weeks.
The definitive porcelain crowns are cemented (or screwed) into place, after a try-in to check the colour, shape and fit.