Dental implants are an excellent option to replace missing teeth. They are a fixed option as opposed to dentures, which are removable. No drilling is required on adjacent teeth (like with bridges), thus preserving all of your own tooth structure.
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A dental implant consists of the implant, an abutment and a crown. A small painless surgical procedure is needed to place the implant into the jaw bone. The implant acts as a replacement of the missing tooth root and the abutment and crown restore the part of the tooth which is evident in the mouth. Implants can be used to support one or several false teeth.
In some cases implants can be placed as soon as the tooth is removed (known as immediate replacement) but most cases are carried out after a healing period of 3-6 months. If implants are looked after well they can last for the rest of your life. They are the closest thing to having your own tooth back.
Dental implants are not suitable for all patients – a thorough implant assessment would be carried out and then suitability discussed.
Alternatives to Dental Implants
Removable dentures (false teeth). These can be metal based or plastic and can be made to look very good. The disadvantage are that these are removable and are taken out at night time.
Dental bridges can replace teeth by using other healthy teeth to support them fixed in your mouth. They work very well and are fixed in your mouth. The disadvantage is that healthy teeth are used to support the missing teeth.
In many cases dental implants can be a superior option to these because they are both fixed, and do not damage adjacent teeth. Speak to the dentist to discuss the best option for you.
Before implants are placed, the dentist will have assessed your mouth and discussed the best options with you. An x-ray or ConeBeam CT scan of the area will be taken to check for the important structures in the area.
The implant placement is usually done under a local anaesthetic. The procedure itself is painless. The gum is peeled back and the implant is placed securely into the jaw bone. The gum is then placed back over the implant to allow it to heal and integrate. The implant is left for around 3 months to allow for healing and is reviewed in this time.
A second smaller procedure is then undertaken to uncover the implant and shape the gum around it after which and impression of your mouth is taken so that the crown can be made in our hi-tech lab. Once made this can be cemented onto the implant to restore your smile.