FAQ’s about Dental Implants

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are the best solution for missing teeth. For over 40 years they have become a dentist’s first choice when replacing missing teeth.

An implant is a titanium substitute for a natural tooth root. A socket is usually created into which an implant root is placed, like a wood screw in wood. Unlike wood, however, the bone is dynamic and integrates in to the implant surface. The final result is like a concrete post in concrete and cannot be easily unscrewed. This base is used for crowns, bridges and stabilising dentures.

How many teeth can be supported?

It is not necessary to use one implant per tooth.

Bone density is always poorer in the upper jaw than in the lower and if you have no teeth at all, most treatment providers will want to place a minimum of six implants to support a complete arch of 12 replacement teeth. However, up to 10 teeth can often be supported on 4 implants. This can have the additional benefit of avoiding sinus grafting, reducing the time and cost of treatment

Usually fewer implants are needed than would be required to treat a whole upper jaw – A simple treatment plan to provide 10 or more teeth in the lower jaw with as few as four implants is usually possible.

A loose lower denture can be stabilised with only 2 implants. However, at least 4 implants are needed in the upper jaw.

Am I suitable for dental implants?

Implants are suitable for almost anyone with good general health and properly maintained oral health and hygiene. Smoking, drinking, and neglect of oral hygiene regimes can inhibit initial healing after surgery and maintenance, and cause further complications.

Do I need to have a healthy mouth?

For optimum success, implants should be placed in a well maintained, healthy mouth. Any initial treatment to remedy this, maintenance advice and planning will be included in all treatment plans to achieve the ideal environment for implant placement.

The treatment of gum disease, repair of decay and the elimination of infection, or, in summary, basic dental health, will be important for the long-term success of implant treatment.

What causes bone loss?

Whenever a tooth is lost, the bone which supported it will gradually recede and reduce over time.If there has been substantial bone loss, bone grafting may be necessary prior to implant placement in order to create adequate bone volume for the creation of a socket. For some patients, grafting the tooth socket using a socket preservation technique to retain the bone, or inserting an implant directly into the socket to support and maintain the supporting bone can prevent this bone loss

How long does treatment take?

For routine cases, from the insertion of implant to the addition of the first tooth, treatment time scales can be between several weeks and six months. If the bone already present is robust, the treatment time will be shorter. With poorer bone more time and care must be taken, which can extend treatment time beyond six months.

Are the new teeth joined together?

A bridge supported by natural teeth would be designed in cases where multiple implants need to be routinely joined together in the same way.

It is often easier and just as effective to make several smaller sections of bridgework that each support several teeth. The end result is exactly the same and if any repair work is needed on one of the small sections, this is made significantly easier.

As with every individual case, bone quality and the position and number of the implants will determine which option is best suited to you and this would be discussed fully and planned at the treatment planning stage.

How do I take care of the implants?

Following all stages of implant treatment you will be fully advised on care and maintenance of the implants or the superstructure supported by them. You will be instructed on how to properly clean your implants and what techniques and materials to use in order to satisfactorily achieve this.

How long will the implants last?

Once your implants and surrounding soft tissues are seen to be healthy and your new teeth are comfortable and properly fitted, it will be the quality and upkeep of your home care and the regularity of your maintenance reviews that will effectively influence their longevity. If you maintain a high level of care for implants that are expertly placed into healthy, robust bone, they can be expected to endure for many years. There is, however, no lifetime guarantee with any surgical implant – a doctor would say the same about a hip replacement.

The greatest risk is from implant related gum disease.

Do I have enough bone for implants?

X-rays are used to assess and determine the volume and position of bone remaining in an area after tooth loss.

Dental x-rays can provide high definition in two dimensions, but sometimes more advanced imaging might be needed to determine bone volume in three dimensions and the position/proximity of important structures such as nerves and sinuses.

Dental CT Scans – Images obtained by CT scanning will normally be able to show all of the information about your bone that is required, including quality and quantity, but most significantly to ensure that nerves and other important tissue are avoided during surgery. Roy Morris is one of only a handful of clinics to own our own Cone Beam CT scanner that allows such important images to be taken efficiently and easily.

Is it possible to wear temporary teeth during implant healing and treatment periods?

If the teeth being replaced by implants are clearly visible, it is understandable that you would want some teeth during treatment and healing times. We can provide this in the form of temporary bridges or simple plastic dentures.

Is the placing of implants uncomfortable?

Implants are placed using the same familiar dental local anaesthetics used for general, routine dentistry. According to the specifics of the case, the operation might vary from a duration of 20 minutes for a simple single implant to approximately 90 minutes for complex bone grafting and multiple implant procedures.

Swelling, tenderness and occasionally bruising can be expected after the surgery and full postoperative instructions are given to patients together with antibiotics, if necessary. At our practice, we provide all patients with Roy’s telephone  available 24 hours a day should you have any concerns or queries.

If my surgery is going to take longer, will I still receive sedation or anaesthetic?

Most people will be anxious over all but the most basic implants. It is important to remember that the procedures are carried out cautiously, gently and with great care to guarantee that the tissues are not damaged. Oral Temazepam may also be used to help relax anxious patients

What happens if I don't have enough bone?

In some cases, loss of bone after a tooth infection or the removal of teeth leaves them without enough to secure an implant and in such cases bone grafting or sinus augmentation may be required.

Will bone grafting lengthen my treatment?

The treatment time is almost invariably increased when bone grafting is required – however the process greatly improves the outcome of the implant treatment.

Routine dental implants procedure: journey overview

  • Initial diagnosis and arranging treatment appointments alongside the completion of any reparative or preparatory work on remaining teeth or bone.
  • A ‘mock up’ will be produced to visualise the final result. Implant placement is then more accurate creating a better appearance in the final teeth.
  • Your final, permanent teeth are usually inserted three to nine months after the implants have been inserted.
  • Together with the commitment to a high standard of oral hygiene at home, regular examination and hygiene appointments are then arranged. Hygiene appointments must always be every 3 months.