What are dental implants?
Dental implants are a way of replacing missing teeth. The implants themselves are metal structures, much like a screw, made of titanium alloys. They are placed into your jawbone in a precise and highly specialised procedure carried out in a dental office under local anaesthetic or sedation. After a minimum of three months healing (to give a chance for the bone to integrate into the implant), the implant is exposed and a replacement tooth can be attached on top.
When is it needed?
Dental implants are an excellent alternative to dentures and bridges for replacing missing teeth. They are anchored to the bone more firmly than natural teeth and avoid the need to cut down on teeth on either side of the gap for crowns to support a bridge.
An implant can be used to replace a single tooth, and two or more implants can be used to anchor a group of artificial teeth.
Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
It depends on the condition of the bone in your jaw. The implant surgeon will carry out a number of special tests to measure the amount of bone still there. If there isn’t enough or if it isn’t healthy enough, it will be difficult to place an implant there without some bone grafting first.
Is the treatment expensive?
Unfortunately, yes. However, over the longer term, implants are usually more cost-effective and satisfactory than conventional treatment with bridges and dentures.
There are also a number of other factors to keep in mind. Implants are anchored into your bone very firmly (more firmly than your natural teeth) so there is security in knowing they won’t become loose. You will get artificial teeth that look, feel and work like your own natural teeth.
Speak to your dentist about whether implants are right for you, and about the interest-free finance options available to help you spread the cost of your treatment.