Implants are a great solution to tooth loss because they look and feel like natural teeth. Dental implants have provided an excellent alternative to dentures for people with few or no restorable teeth. Implants can be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. They can also be used to attach full or partial dentures. The cost is higher, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the ‘feel’ of natural teeth. Unfortunately, not everyone is a candidate for implants.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root surgically placed in the jawbone to hold a bridge or replacement tooth. They can replace one or more missing teeth. If the bone structure of the jaw is limited, a custom-made metal framework can be fitted onto the existing bone. A good candidate for an implant will need excellent general health, strong bones, healthy gums, and must be willing to follow a strict oral hygiene regime. Poor oral hygiene is a major factor leading to the failure of implants. People with chronic health problems like diabetes, smokers, and heavy drinkers are generally poor candidates. Your dentist can assess whether or not you are a good candidate for this procedure.
The steps in this procedure are:
The anchor is placed by a surgical procedure. This can take several hours and up to 6 months is needed for the bone to grow around the anchor and hold it in place. The post may be attached at this time or during a second surgery. The surgery is done in a dental office or a hospital. A local or general anaesthetic is used.
After the gums have healed, artificial teeth are made and fitted onto the post. Several fittings may be required so this step can take up to two months to complete.
The success rate for implants also depends on the tooth’s purpose and location in the mouth. The success rate is about 95% for those placed in the front of the lower jaw and 85% for those placed in the sides and rear of the upper jaw. These rates are continuously improving with the advent of new techniques.