Q What are the options for replacing missing teeth?
A It is beneficial to have missing teeth replaced and treatment options include:
- Dental implants
- Dentures (complete and partial)
- Dental bridges
Q What are the pros and cons of dental implants?
A Dental implants are a durable treatment that provide great aesthetics and excellent functionality but are the most expensive option. Dental implants also aid in reducing bone loss and gum recession.
Dental bridges are more affordable and should last for several years if properly maintained. However, they do need replacing eventually and the adjacent teeth will have to be prepared in advance. The bone and gums will also continue to shrink with a bridge, which may mean that the bridge gap can become visible.
Dentures are inexpensive and they viable option for replacing a large amount of teeth, but they can be uncomfortable and cause irritation, soreness and have to be removed daily for cleaning.
Q What exactly are dental implants?
A They are small screw-shaped devices which are used to replace the root portion of a missing tooth. Implants are placed into the jaw bone and then left to heal and integrate into the bone (also known as osseointegration). Once they have healed fully, a new crown, dental bridge or denture can be attached. Implants are made from titanium so there is no risk of irritation.
Q Are dental implants safe?
A Yes, dental implants are safe. Studies spanning 20 years have suggested no problems or dangers.
Q How long do they last?
A Implants should last for at least 15 years. Research is limited in this area as the treatment is relatively new but most experts' state that dental implants are viewed among them as the most beneficial ways of replacing lost teeth.
Q Can I have an implant if natural teeth remain?
A Yes, implants can be used to replace many missing teeth.
Q Who can have an implant?
A No, implants may not be suitable for some, including smokers and people who have very weak bone tissue. A bone graft may be needed where there is insufficient bone supply.
Q Is the procedure painful?
A The procedure can be carried out either using local anaesthetic or sedation, so there should be minimal discomfort experienced. However, you may experience a mild pain following the procedure. Taking painkillers will help to ease any discomfort, which such subside within a few days. Your dentist will advise you how and when to take pain relief medication.
Q When will the new teeth be fitted?
A It will take a period of time for the implant to integrate with the bone tissue. In the case of lower implants this usually takes 3-4 months, while upper implants take around 6 months to heal. Your dentist can fit a temporary restoration during the healing process.
Q How long does treatment take?
A It usually takes around 5 months from the first consultation to the end of treatment for lower jaw implants and up to 9 months for upper jaw implants.
Q Is it difficult to maintain oral hygiene?
A You should take care of your implant in the same manner as your natural teeth. If you have any questions or concerns, your dentist will be able to advise you on how to maintain the cleanliness of your implant.
Q If I have already had gum disease does this mean I will get it again?
A No, gum disease affects the connective tissue between the gums and the teeth and this tissue is not present in implanted teeth. Infection is possible but only in very rare circumstances.
Q Will I be able to take the new teeth out?
A In most cases, implanted teeth are only removed by a dentist. However, those with dentures can remove them for cleaning.
Q Is it one implant for each missing tooth?
A If you have a single missing tooth you will need a single implant. However, implants can support more than one tooth and if you are having a full arch replaced you will probably only need around 6 implants. Your dentist will be able to give you exact details of how many implants you will need.
Q Will the implants be visible?
A Your dentist will ensure that the implants are not visible when you talk or smile, but the implants will be made visible in order for you to clean them.
Q What if the implant doesn't settle into the bone?
Q Recognised as implant failure this is nonetheless uncommon. If for some reason the implant does not integrate, it can be taken out and replaced once the gum tissue has healed fully.
Smoking can increase the risk of implant failure and this is why smokers are advised to quit before receiving implant treatment.
Q Is it possible to develop an allergy to dental implants?
A There is no recorded case of an allergy to dental implants.
Q Will I be a suitable candidate?
A Implants are suitable for most people. Your dentist will be able to tell you if you are a suitable candidate for treatment once they have examined your mouth and performed X-rays to check bone density.
Q Where can I receive dental implant treatment?
A Talk to your dentist about dental implants. He/she will be able to explain what the treatment entails and how it works. In complex cases, patients can be referred to a specialist.