What is an implant?
An implant is thin metal cylinder surgically implanted into the bone of the jaw to replace the root of a missing tooth. One kind of implant has a metal frame and one or more posts. The frame is positioned on the jawbone, then covered with gum tissue so that the pin(s) protrude into the mouth.
Another kind of implant has a metal "root" that is anchored in the jawbone and a pin that protrudes into the mouth. Pins for both kinds of implants can secure a single crown or a complete denture. Since the success of an implant is directly related to the skill of the dentist, be sure to ask your dentist if she has had implant training.
Are implants safe? How long will they last?
Implants are a well-established, tried-and-tested treatment. 90 per cent of modern implants last for at least 15 years.
I have some of my own teeth. Can I still have implants?
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants Ė from one single tooth to a complete set.
Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
It depends on the state of the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will arrange for a number of special tests to assess the amount of bone still there. If there is not enough, or if it isnít healthy enough, it may not be possible to place implants without grafting bone into the area first.
Do implants hurt?
Placing the implants requires a small operation. This can be carried out under local anaesthetic with sedation or with a general anaesthetic. You will not feel any pain at the time, but you may feel some discomfort during the week following the surgery. This is usually due to having stitches in place, and the normal healing process.
Can I have the new teeth straight away?
No. The implants need to bond (integrate) with the bone after they have been placed. This takes at least 3 months in the lower jaw and 6 months in the upper jaw. If you are having one, two or three teeth replaced, you will have a temporary restoration in the meantime. If you have complete dentures, then you can wear them throughout the healing period once they have been adjusted after the surgery.
How long does treatment take?
It takes about 12 months from the initial assessment to the time when the artificial teeth or dentures are finally attached to the implants. However, if only the lower jaw is involved then it may only take around 5 months.
A lot depends on how complicated your treatment is. Your dentist will be able to give you a timetable once the surgery has been done.
Are the teeth difficult to clean?
Cleaning around the teeth attached to the implants is no more difficult than cleaning natural teeth. However, there may be areas that give you problems and youíll be shown methods to help.