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FAQ's about Implants

1)How do Implants work?

Dental implants are commonly made from a titanium screw that is attached to your jawbone, with a tooth crown on top.  They can be used for single and multiple teeth. The crowns are custom-made for your teeth and designed to look natural and be virtually undetectable. The implants will be given time to heal and allow the bone to grow around the implant, usually around three months. After this process, your crowns will be fitted into place, ready for you to share your smile with the world.

2)How can I tell if I am healthy enough to have dental implants?

If a person is well enough to undergo the treatment such as fixed bridgework or routine tooth extractions, you should be able to undergo dental implant procedures. It is important to note that patients may have general health conditions that would contraindicate implant procedures, although this is unusual.

3)Are there risks of the body rejecting them?

Dental implants rely on the body completely accepting placement of the dental implant  within bone. There are some dental implants that have not been successful. However, success has more to do with proper patient selection, proficiency of the practitioner, and the patient's commitment to proper hygiene and preventative maintenance. Success also involves regular follow-up care, just like other dental treatment. Both soft tissue health and the way the replacement teeth function and bite together must be evaluated periodically to ensure long term success of the dental implant.

4)How long will implants last?

With proper care and routine dental check-ups they should last a lifetime. No one can give guarantees because the health of a person is dependent upon many factors which are out of the control of the dentist, e.g. proper nutritional needs being met, proper hygiene, genetics, disease processes which might occur. So, the answer to this question really is that no one knows how long each individual implant will last.

5)Do implants require special care?

Treat them as you would treat the rest of your teeth. Return for regular check-ups. Brushing, flossing and caring for the gums is the best way to care for your teeth. More teeth are lost as a result of gum disease than any other single cause.

6)Is the placement of implants painful? How long does it take?

Implant placement usually does not result in much post-operative discomfort. Usually the patient takes Ibuprofen or Paracetamol for about 2-5 days. If more extensive treatment is needed, for example bone grafts or many implants, then the post-operative course may require more time and medication. Anaesthesia during the surgery should make the placement procedure pain-free. Depending on the complexity and number of implants being placed, the procedure can take between 1 and 4 hours.

7)How long does the whole dental implant process take? Will I be without teeth or unable to eat for a long time?

The first stage of treatment, after a detailed evaluation and treatment plan, usually is the actual placement of the implants. This procedure is generally done during one visit. Most implants will remain covered, underneath the gums, for 3 to 6 months. During this time, osseointegration, the biological bonding of the jawbone to the implant, occurs. Through this healing period, you will probably wear your modified denture or a temporary denture or bridge and maintain normal activities without restriction. You will need to follow a modified, soft diet for the first couple of weeks. There are occasions, one stage implant placements or when extensive bone grafting is to be performed, when patients may be asked not to wear their removable dentures for a period of time. 

The next stage of the procedure is usually 3-6 months after implant placement. At this time, the top of the implants will be uncovered from under the gums and a small metal post or extension will be attached to the implant(s). Your specialist dentist will make any necessary modifications to your temporary teeth to allow you to continue wearing them after post attachment.

In last stage, your new replacement teeth are created and fitted. This  involves a series of appointments to make impressions of your mouth and to "try-in" your replacement teeth. The try-in is necessary to ensure that the size, shape, color and fit of your new teeth will completely blend with and match your individual facial characteristics and remaining natural teeth.

Total treatment time for most implant cases will usually be 5-8 months. It could be longer if bone or gum procedures are needed.

8) I must have some teeth extracted and I intend to have implants placed to restore my ability to chew. Can a dental implant be placed at the same visit as the teeth are extracted?

Whether or not the dental implant can be placed immediately after extraction depends on the amount of available bone in the area and presence or absence of active infection. Placing the implant at the same visit helps preserve both width and height of bone and may prevent the need for placing bone grafts when bone naturally shrinks back after teeth are extracted. During the first year after teeth have been removed, as much as 40% of jawbone width can be lost. Sometimes, infection from a tooth or periodontal disease has destroyed the bone to such an extent that it becomes necessary to do a bone grafting procedure prior to implant placement. If it is possible to place the implant at the same visit as the teeth are extracted, this can save at least three months in healing time compared to waiting for an extraction site to heal before the implants can be placed.

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Last updated: Tuesday 24 April, 2018