If a person has missing teeth, dental implants offer a natural looking and secure alternative to dentures, partials or bridges. Implants are a form of anchoring prosthetic (‘artificial’) teeth in one’s mouth. Implants are titanium screws that are placed into the jawbone, with prosthetic teeth attached onto the implant. Implants can replace as little as one tooth, multiple teeth (implant-supported bridge or partial denture), or the entire arch (such as an implant-supported denture). Placing implants is generally a two step process. First is the surgical phase, where the implant is placed into the bone beneath the gum tissue. As the tissue heals, the bone integrates around the implant. This integration period takes approximately 3-4 months. The second phase is called the prosthetic phase, whereby the artificial tooth is fabricated and attached onto an abutment, the post that connects the replacement tooth to the implant. The prosthesis is either cemented in place in the case of a single crown or fixed bridge, or attaches via a clip, in the case of a removable partial or complete denture.
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
If you are in good health and have good quantity and quality of bone, dental implants could be a good treatment option for replacing missing teeth. In cases where there is not enough bone, grafting and augmentation procedures can be done to increase the amount of supporting bone for the implant. Certain systemic diseases, like diabetes and certain bone disorders, may complicate the integration process, and would require modification of the treatment. In any case, consult with your dentist to see if you are a suitable candidate for implants.
What are the disadvantages of implants?
Generally speaking, implants are more costly than alternatives such as dentures and bridges. However, the comfort and fulfillment of chewing with solid, stable teeth is worth the extra cost for many patients. Implants also take more time to complete than the traditional options. Bridges and dentures can often be completed within 2-3 weeks, whereas implants take upwards of 4 to 5 months to complete. Most of this is due to the amount of time the bone takes to integrate with the titanium implant.
What are the advantages of implants?
Other than the obvious advantage of having teeth where you didn’t have any before, implants offer many advantages over traditional options of replacing teeth, like crowns and bridges or removable dentures. Implants are fixed in place, so they offer great stability and comfort. They are safe and predictable, and do not require the need to cut down any healthy, neighbouring teeth.
Book a consult if you think that implants may be suitable for you.