What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a metal, screw-like post that replaces the root of a missing tooth, and is usually made of titanium. The part that extends out is the ‘abutment’, and a ‘crown’ covers the top to give it the appearance of a real tooth.
The condition of your jawbone, general health, implantation method and materials used will determine how the surgery will proceed. If you’re found to be a suitable candidate, the benefits outweigh those of alternatives such as dentures or bridgework.
Why Choose Dental Implants?
The biggest benefit of dental implants is the support it lends to your new teeth. They resemble real teeth in function, aesthetics and structure, and last for a long time.
Those with other forms of teeth replacement tend to have problems chewing. This leads to a chain effect of issues, both emotional and physical.
They might need to convert to a soft food diet, and not being able to eat their favourite foods can be depressing. The limitations in food choices can also lead to nutritional deficiencies.
There are many other benefits to choosing dental implants over dentures or bridges. Click here for the full list.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Dental implant procedures have a high success rate of about 95%. Having said that, factors such as smoking, diabetes and poor dental hygiene can reduce this.
How it plays out will depend on every individual’s circumstance. But on average they have a 20 year life span, and have been known to last for up to 50 years.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
Implants may seem expensive at first glance, at $2500 – $4000 for a single tooth. But what you’re buying is also superior longevity, comfort and aesthetics. It is also a complex procedure that is usually done in stages over several months.
No two implants look the same as we are all different. It requires customisation to fit within each person’s mouth structure. The materials and tools needed to make them are high in quality. The process of shaping the metal requires great care and skill.
On top of that, the design of the crown is also customised, and cannot be mass produced. The process of fixing the screw and placing the crown is a complicated procedure; one that requires great precision. It takes many years of training for a dentist to perfect this process. Their subsequent expertise can make a lasting difference.
What is the Procedure Like?
There are several factors to take into consideration beforehand, and the process can range from anywhere between a day to a year. It is best to seek out a skilled dentist first to assess the condition of your health, jaw, bones and teeth. Dental x-rays, MRIs and/or CT scans may be taken if deemed necessary.
Two or more specialists may be involved in the procedure. One is an oral maxillofacial surgeon, who specialises in conditions of the jaw, mouth and face. Another might be a periodontist, who works with structures that support the teeth. And/Or a dentist who is in charge of restoring the implants with crowns, bridges or dentures.
Here is a quick overview of the steps to a dental implant surgery:
- Removal of the damaged tooth.
- Preparation of the jawbone for surgery, which may involve bone grafting if it is too soft or not thick enough.
- The bone may be made of artificial material, or taken from another part of the body such as the hip, and transplanted into the jaw. This will add a few months to the process, as the transplanted bone needs time to grow into a stable base for the implant.
- After the jawbone heals, the oral surgeon will make a cut to open the gum and expose the bone, in order to place the metal post deep within it. The healing period may take several months.
- At this point, there will still be a gap where the tooth is missing. You can ask for a temporary denture for appearance purposes if required. You will need to remove it daily to clean it, and also when you sleep.
- Osseointegration begins, where the jawbone grows into and fuses with the surface of the implant, like roots in natural teeth.
- Placing of the abutment, which is the extension of the metal post. The dentist will re-open your gum to expose the implant, so that they can attach the abutment to it. The gum tissue is then closed around it.
- It takes about one to two weeks for the soft tissue to heal. After which the dentist will make moulds of the teeth and jawbone, before placing the final piece of tooth. There are fixed and removable options for artificial teeth.
- For each of these stages, the patient may need to eat soft foods while the surgical site heals.
- Dental implants may feel loose in the beginning as the bone grows around the root, but should stabilise after the recovery period.
- Practice good daily oral hygiene habits to help your dental implants last longer.
- Follow up with your dentist on a regular basis to ensure that the new tooth is in good condition.
Why Your Choice of Dentist Matters
Studies have shown that your choice of dentist matters a great deal as well. There have been many cases where dental implants fall out after a few years, when they should last for a long time.
There is no special licensing required for dentists to place them. So it is crucial that you do your research before you entrust your precious teeth to one. In a bid to save on costs, some dentists may use substandard fixtures or equipment, rush through the process, or do not ensure that there is enough bone density before placing them.
At Nourish Dental Care, we guarantee a minimum of five years for your dental implants. We use the latest technology to diagnose, treat and manage each patient’s condition.
Dr. Chionh who runs the practice has many years of experience. He focuses on TMD, sleep apnoea, orofacial pain, and other mouth and jaw conditions. He holds full membership in all four Royal Surgical Colleges of the United Kingdom & Ireland. Find out more about him on our About Page.