Frequently Asked Questions
Looking for more information? Find answers to the most common implant related questions below.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a small titanium fixture which acts like an artificial tooth root. When the implant is placed into the jaw, the bone surrounding it grows onto the surface of the implant as it heals. This process takes several months to complete, though after this time the implant is considered to be ‘integrated’, and the bond between the implant and the bone is strong enough for the artificial tooth to be fixed to the implant.
Once integrated, a single implant can support a single porcelain crown, or multiple implants can support multiple connected crowns (also known as a bridge). Implants can therefore replace anything from a single missing tooth to all of your teeth.
Am I suitable for treatment?
Dental implants are the best option for people of all ages in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to an accident, gum disease, an injury, or some other reason.
Heavy smoking, alcohol or abuse, and occasionally certain medical conditions may contraindicate implant treatment. After careful evaluation of your health history, James will alert you to any conditions that may affect your treatment. Age is not a factor, and if dental implants can help eating by perhaps supporting a denture (see implant-retained overdentures) then it is often people in later life who can benefit the most. Your general health and well-being depends on eating a balanced and varied diet, and improvement in nutrition through better eating can often be gained by treatment with dental implants if you are struggling to eat healthily because of loose and uncomfortable dentures.
If you do not have enough bone to support a dental implant, there are many safe and effective ways to correct bone deficiency. In the past, this meant that it was not feasible for a patient to have dental implants – however, technology and science are advancing at a rapid rate and patients who have reduced bone tissue are now able to have treatment as a result of bone grafting. James will assess you and advise you if additional bone material is needed. It may be necessary for him to perform an artificial bone replacement, sinus lift or graft from your own bone before the implant can be placed.
Why should teeth be replaced at all?
Besides the most obvious reason of maintaining the appearance of a nice smile, there are several other good reasons why it is a good idea to consider replacing a tooth if it has been lost or is about to be removed.
Possible side-effects of not replacing teeth may include;
Unwanted movement of nearby teeth
Teeth next to the space may drift or tilt into the gap, and the tooth which ‘bites’ against the gap will slowly begin to erupt further out of the gum as it tries to find a tooth to bite against. These movements can affect the precise way in which the upper and lower teeth move over each other during chewing and speaking. This can occasionally cause misalignment and pain in the jaw joints, and also place excessive pressure on remaining teeth.
Whilst losing a single tooth may not drastically affect your ability to chew food, losing several teeth probably will. It is also important to remember that as teeth are lost the remaining teeth must work harder during chewing, and the extra pressure placed on them can lead to them fracturing or possibly becoming loose.
When a tooth is lost the bone the held it in place begins to shrink as it no longer has any proper function. If severe this bone loss can mean that the parts of the face over the jaws can ‘sink in’, as they are no longer adequately supported. This can affect the youthful appearance of the face, especially around the lips.
How long does implant treatment take?
This depends on your individual circumstances, though simple cases will usually take between 3-4 months to complete from the day the implants are placed.
If any bone grafting is required before implants are placed then it is likely to add approximately 4-6 months until treatment is completed.
James will discuss your estimated specific treatment time with you before treatment begins.
Will I have a gap?
We can always give you a temporary replacement for a missing tooth during the time it takes to complete your treatment. This is often done with a removable denture, though alternatives are sometimes possible.
If the tooth is further back in the mouth and is not particularly visible, many people choose to be without a tooth for a few months rather than wear a denture.
James will discuss with you the options that are available to you to fill in any gaps if necessary.
How are implants placed?
Implants can usually be placed with local anaesthetic, meaning the area is made completely numb with an injection before the implant is placed. It is completely painless at the time, and if you can cope with having a filling then you can manage to have a dental implant placed.
If you are very anxious about treatment then sedation may be available – please see the section about intravenous sedation.
How can I have treatment if I’m very nervous?
If you are very nervous of dentistry or have a fear dating back to childhood then you are likely to find intravenous sedation extremely useful. Please see the section about intravenous sedation for more details, and what you can expect if you choose to have sedation.
What is a ‘graft’?
There are a few different types of graft, though they are generally required when we need to replace or increase the volume of ‘hard tissue’ (bone) or ‘soft tissue’ (gum).
If only a small amount of bone needs to be replaced, then it is often possible to do this with a material derived from cow bone. This material is sterilized and irradiated to make it completely safe, and once placed it is slowly replaced with your own bone over months and years. However, it has limitations in terms of the amount of tissue it can predictably replace, and if larger volumes of bone need replacing then bone may need to be taken from another part of the jaw and placed where the implant will be inserted when ready.
If this second type of grafting is necessary then treatment will take longer, as it will be between 3-12 months following the graft before the implant can be placed.
If any form of grafting is required James will discuss it with you in detail before treatment begins.
How will it feel after treatment?
Most people report very little discomfort following placement of a dental implants, though if your case is more complex or takes longer then is likely to mean that this discomfort lasts a little longer and requires some simple painkillers. Generally people are back to normal after a few days.
How do I get started?
If you feel you would like to find out more about implants, you can either contact James directly by filling in your details on the contact page, or call one of the clinics where James works to arrange an appointment.
At your consultation James will discuss your needs and wishes, and a thorough examination will be performed. You options will be discussed, and following this appointment you will receive a written report detailing you case. This will included the proposed treatment options, estimated length of treatment and number of required appointments, and fees.
Need more info?
If you can’t find the answer to your question, or you would like to book an appointment with James, please get in touch.