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What are implants?
A dental implant is a small titanium screw which is placed into the bone where a tooth is missing to provide the most stable and long-lasting platform for the replacement of the missing teeth. Titanium dental implants were first used thirty years ago. Over that period of time there has been a very large amount of research to show that they work extremely effectively and reliably, and are the best possible replacement for missing teeth.
The main component is the titanium implant itself. This resembles a precisely manufactured screw with a specially roughened surface which makes it very compatible with bone. The implant is about the same size as the root of a natural tooth. It is placed into the bone and left to integrate for 4-6 weeks. By this time it is rock-solid in the bone. There are no problems with the integration of the implant into the bone, because titanium is one of the few materials that can perform osseointegration, whereby the implant is accepted into the bone which fuses around it.
Once the implant is solid in the bone, the second part, a special titanium post, can be screwed into the implant. This is called the abutment.
The pictures above show an implant in place, and then the finished result with the abutment and crown added.
The abutment allows the fixation of the final part of the implant – the crown (a replacement tooth). The crown is usually screwed into place. The porcelain on the crown is custom made to match the colour of the rest of your teeth, so that the implants are imperceptible from natural teeth. This is shown in the Examples of our Work.
The Dental Implant Clinic focuses purely on dental implants because we believe them to be the best possible solution for missing teeth available today. To have a functioning set of teeth can greatly improve your quality of life. Not only will you be able to eat well, but you can also look great. Having your teeth helps give shape and support to your whole face. When teeth are lost, the gum and jaw bones shrink, which gives rise to a premature aging effect. Dental implants are small titanium screws about the size of the roots of your own teeth. Once placed into the space left by a missing tooth the jaw bone will grow and fuse with the implant, but the most important thing is that the shape of your jaw bone will now be preserved, stopping the aging effect. Implants are the closest thing to natural teeth that is available today. Implants are incredibly strong which means that you can bite and chew with an implant just as well as with natural teeth, even with hard foods like whole apples and raw carrots! They are very long-lasting, and allow you to live as if you had all of your natural teeth. Implants are also very versatile, and a combination of one or more implants can be used to restore anyone’s smile to brilliance.
If you have missing teeth, or are about to loose teeth, then filling the gap can be achieved with a denture, bridge or implants. To some, dentures are a bit old fashioned, perhaps something that their grandparents might have worn, and they involve the hassle of removal and cleaning. All bridges involve the cutting of adjacent teeth to some extent. However, the major problem with dentures and bridges is that they fail to preserve the bone and gum around extracted teeth and this will continue to shrink throughout life, giving an aging effect. Dental implants, on the other hand, feel just like normal teeth, do not involve the cutting of adjacent teeth, are much more of a permanent solution, and prevent the gum shrinkage and aging effect.
At The Dental Implant Clinic we have developed the skills to make dental implants look incredibly natural. You can see what can be achieved by looking at some of our Before and After pictures.
Uses of implants
Below are a few common uses of dental implants.
1. Retaining or replacing dentures
Implants can be used to retain dentures which will stop your dentures from moving. This can be incredibly useful if your dentist has been unable to make a set of dentures which does not move. Implants can also be used to do away with dentures all together and return you to fixed teeth again. So if you are fed up with your dentures and have to always watch what you can eat, avoiding tough food, then denture free implants can be a great solution. Just imagine being able to bite into a crisp apple or eat a raw carrot! Many dentures have unsightly clips on existing teeth which can now be eliminated with dental implants.
This lady came to The Dental Implant Clinic with a very loose upper denture. Four implants were used to fix her denture so firmly that she can now bite an apple, and to restore her smile. Any denture, big or small, can now be replaced with dental implants. This will allow you to chew all of your favourite foods with no food escaping under the denture.
2. Replacing Bridges
Implants are so strong that they can be used to permanently replace your bridge, as shown in this picture:
Implants do not pull on the surrounding teeth, nor do they cause the premature aging effect of a bridge as they preserve gum and bone.
3. Replacing unstable or infected crowned teeth
If an existing crowned tooth is becoming a liability and your dentist is unable to reliably fix the problem, many patients are now choosing to have the problem tooth carefully removed and replaced with a much more reliable and stronger dental implant. An example of this problem and its solution is given in the testimonial of Robert Bates, who had a front crown that kept coming out. Click here to read about his successful treatment at The Dental Implant Clinic.
This patient had four decayed and abscessed front teeth which needed to be extracted. On the right is the finished result after her teeth were replaced with dental implants.
4. Replacing missing second teeth
Don’t worry! Missing second teeth is quite a common occurrence. Indeed six percent of children have some second teeth that do not ever develop. It is best to seek professional help as soon as missing teeth have been identified. You will need to see an orthodontist and an implantologist so that a plan can be put forward that will minimize the impact of the missing teeth. If a back tooth that is missing then this is less of a problem; often the baby tooth can be left in situ for many years to come. It may well last until around age forty! It is very common for upper lateral incisors (second from the front) to never develop.
The management of these missing teeth requires careful planning with an orthodontic/implant team approach. At The Dental Implant Clinic, the team works to manage the treatment of many young people with missing second teeth. These before and after photographs of a young girl with missing upper lateral incisors illustrate why dental implants are such a great solution for missing second teeth:
This girl did not develop her upper lateral incisors, as discussed above. She chose to have her missing teeth replaced with dental implants, because they are strong and long-lasting. She was aware that any other option would not have been as durable, nor as natural looking.
How long have dental implants been available in the UK?
Although modern implantology began in Sweden in the late 60’s, popularity really grew throughout the UK in the 1980’s. The team at The Dental Implant Clinic has been placing dental implants since 1993.
Am I too old for dental implants?
No. Any person at any age can have dental implants as long as there is enough bone available in which to place the dental implants. If there is not enough bone, extra bone can often be grafted.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
- Your new dental implant will look and feel like natural.
- With dental implants you will have more confidence to smile and even be able to bite an apple!
- Dental implants can replace a removable denture with fixed teeth.
- Dental implants stop your gums and bone from shrinking which reduces the aging effect caused by losing teeth.
Will I be left without teeth during treatment?
We understand it can be embarrassing for patients to be without their teeth. During the treatment we will do all we can to help you smile confidently and that nobody will know you have a gap. If you do need to be without teeth to allow initial healing, this will be clearly explained to you before treatemnt commences.
Is dental implant surgery painful?
We work closely with our patients to ensure that they feel no discomfort during the placement of the dental implant. This is through using an effective local anaesthetic. Post-operatively we supply painkillers to ensure that our patients remain comfortable. We also offer sedation if you want to know nothing about your treatment.
How long does the treatment take?
For routine cases treatment time is usually ten weeks. More complex cases can take longer. For instance, when there is sufficient bone, treatment time is shortened and when there is insufficient bone, treatment time can be increased. Your specific treatment schedule will be explained to you during your consultation.
Can dental implants preserve bone?
Yes, they can, and once dental implants have been placed the bone can even become stronger.
Would I need to do anything prior to treatment?
Yes. As part of our consultation we will screen your gums and bone for any infections. Prior to implant placement your remaining teeth and gums need to be healthy. We will offer any additional treatement to ensure that your mouth is healthy prior having implants.
What if I am nervous about treatment?
Some of our patients prefer to have the dental implants placed under sedation. A sedative can be carefully administered to relax you during the treatment, and ensure that you remember nothing about it afterwards.
How often will I need to have my dental implants checked?
It is essential that you continue to see your own dentist and your hygienist for regular check-ups. Clinical studies have shown that a yearly review with your implantologist is best for the longevity of your implants. Some patients need more detailed maintenance; this will be explained prior the commencement of your treatment.
Here are the key stages involved in placing a dental implant:
First the extracted tooth is allowed to heal. This is vitally important to allow new bone to form in the hole left by the extracted tooth. During this time a temporary tooth is usually inserted so that no gap will be visible.
Next the implant is placed under local anesthetic (or sedation). This procedure is performed using pioneering key-hole surgery at The Dental Implant Clinic. The implant is left for a few weeks to heal. During this time a temporary tooth is usually re-inserted.
Next a titanium post is screwed into the implant. The tianium will fuse with the bone in the mouth, providing a strong, stable and long-lasting platform for the tooth to be fixed upon.
The crown is then inserted on top of the post. The crown is custom made by hand to match in with your own teeth, so that your implant will be indistinguishable from a natural tooth. The smile is now complete, and the implant will function just as a normal tooth.
All fees are estimates and all patients will be given a full, personalised written estimate before commencing treatment. Please contact us to discuss finance schemes, as we provide the option for you to pay for your treatment in installments.