A dental implant is an artificial root, usually made of titanium or a titanium alloy, which can be used to support new crowns or bridgework or to anchor loose dentures
Can anybody have an implant?
It is usually wise to wait to the age of about 18 before considering dental implants because there will be little significant growth of the body after this age. However some factors may limit their placement. For example an inadequate bone quality or quantity. There are some medical conditions that are also important factors to take into consideration, eg uncontrolled diabetes. A thorough dental examination, supplemented with X rays and special models allows the dentist to determine whether implants are a viable possibility. For more complex cases a CT scan or the equivalent may be needed.
What is involved?
Placing a dental implant involves a small surgical procedure where the gum is lifted back and a hole is prepared in the jaw bone. The implant is placed and the gum is sutured back together. The procedure is usually carried out under local anaesthetic.
A healing period is needed – usually around three months in the lower jaw and four months in the upper jaw. Post-operative pain is generally not a problem. There is usually a low-key discomfort for several days which is easily controlled with pain-killers. Your dentist will prescribe the appropriate medication.
If there is an inadequate bone quantity available it is sometimes possible to graft bone into the area. This is a more complicated procedure which will extend the time scale for treatment.
The long-term success
The possibility of dental implants has been available for over four decades and long-term research now allows us to predict very high success rates – over 95% over a ten year period. Dental implants not only improve the natural appearance, they also improve chewing and speech.