Briony Wood has over 25 years of dental practice experience and has been placing implants since 2006, investing heavily in gaining knowledge and experience in this field. She has been awarded a Diploma in Implantology by the Royal College of Surgeons (London) and has placed hundreds of implants. She has attended postgraduate meetings in Frankfurt, Tubingen, Belfast, Dublin, Berlin, Glasgow and London. She is a member of the Association of Dental Implantology.
A dental implant is a titanium rod with an internal screw thread that essentially is a substitute for a natural tooth root and is placed at the precise location of the intended tooth. These rods fuse with the bone (osseo-integrate) to form a secure foundation for tooth replacement. Titanium is a material that has been shown over many years to be well tolerated by the body. An implant can be placed as soon as a tooth is removed (immediate placement), or placed in to the area after the bone has healed (delayed placement). In addition, the implant can have a crown placed straight away (immediate loading), or can be placed after osseo-integration (delayed loading). Each has benefits and risks which will be carefully assessed by your dentist to find the best approach for your circumstances. Implants are a well-established, tried and tested treatment. 90% of modern implants last for at least 15 years.
Types of implant supported restorations
- Implant supported crown-cement or screw retained
- Implant supported bridge-cement or screw retained
- Implant supported denture-fixed screw retained or locator/bar removable
Types of implants
There are very many designs and companies manufacturing the implants. Here at Wimborne Dental we believe in using products from companies with a long history of implant provision, so with a proven track record of quality and service support as you are entering a contract for life with your implant so you need peace of mind that you have the maintenance support for the future. Our chosen implants are either Ankylos or Straumann.
An initial assessment is undertaken to ensure you have suitable health and quantity of bone for implant placement. This may require a CT scan (3D x-ray) which we have on site.
If you are suitable to proceed with treatment, a full discussion of what to expect, risks/benefits, costs and pre-operative instructions are given to you. If sedation is required in addition to this, written consent will also be needed.
- First stage surgeries that may be bone grafting, sinus lifting and/or implant placement
- Suture removal
- Provisional restoration to shape gums for crowns/bridges
- Permanent restorations
- Follow up maintenance visits
- Adjacent natural teeth are preserved — not destroyed
- A dental implant looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth
- Dental implants are designed to remain aesthetically pleasing for a lifetime
- Cleaning is easier and more hygienic
- Implants do not decay and you will never need a root canal treatment
- Dental implants virtually stop the bone resorption process (deterioration)
- Natural biting and chewing capacity is restored so you can eat what you want, when you want
- Dental implants are permanent — no need to deal with messy adhesives or cleaning solutions
- They can reduce the strain placed on other teeth by creating an individual support structure for crowns, bridges and dentures
- Evidence suggests that they can last much longer than other methods of dental tooth replacement
- Implants can provide excellent denture stabilization
- Upfront investment- however, over the longevity of a properly cared for implant, it represents value for money
- Total rehabilitation time can be 4-12 months
- There will be a need for a minor surgical procedure to place dental implants
- Many appointments may be required to provide the final restorative outcome
- Due to a lack of shock-absorbers within implants, fractures of crowns and bridgework are more common than with natural teeth crowns, but newer composite materials have reduced this risk
- Implants may feel 'dead' as they do not have any nerves
- Implants (as with any restoration) are not for life, and will require maintenance by the patient, and occasionally by the dentist which will require additional financial investment
- Smoking reduces the healing capacity around implants, so there is a higher risk of non-integration (approx. 15% failure) and subsequent bone loss if uncared for
I have some of my own teeth. Can I still have implants?
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants- from one single tooth to a complete set.
Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
It depends on the state of the bone in your jaw. We will arrange for a number of special tests to assess the amount of bone still there. If there is not enough, or if it isn’t healthy enough, it may not be possible to place implants without grafting bone into the area first.
Do implants hurt?
Placing the implants requires a small operation. This can be carried out under local anaesthetic with or without sedation. You will not feel any pain at the time, but you may feel some discomfort during the week following the surgery. This is usually due to the stitches in place, and the normal healing process.
I’ve had gum disease when I had my own teeth, will I get it with the teeth attached to the implants?
Yes, if you don’t care for them well enough implants can still suffer with bone loss and/or gum inflammation. If you keep them clean, and don’t smoke, then you should not have any problems
Do implants show?
We will make sure that the implants won’t show during all normal movements of the mouth and lips. You will need to be able to see them, so that you can clean them properly.
Do I have an implant for each missing tooth?
No unless you’re only having a single tooth replaced. Normally five or six implants are used to replace all teeth in one jaw, as each implant can usually support two teeth. For a few missing teeth, two or three implants may be used.
What happens if the implant does not bond (integrate) with the bone?
This happens very rarely. If the implant becomes loose during the healing period or just after, then it is easily removed and healing takes place in a normal way. Once the jaw has healed, either another implant can be placed or, alternatively we can make a bridge using the adjacent integrated implants.
Is the treatment expensive?
The investment in fixed implant supported teeth is more than the alternatives but this shouldn’t be looked at in isolation, as the benefits may pay for itself in others ways i.e. reducing the damage to remaining teeth, preserving bone and hence facial support, chewing efficiency.
How long does the treatment take?
It takes 3-9 months from the initial assessment to the time when the artificial teeth or dentures are finally attached to the implants. A lot depends on how complicated your treatment is. We will be able to give you a time table once the surgery has been done.
Can I have the new teeth straight away?
Sometimes, it is possible to have an immediate tooth if there is no infection present and plenty of bone. There is a greater risk of failure with immediate teeth as the implant still needs to bond (integrate) with the bone which is more predictable if no loading is placed on it. We can assess whether this approach is advisable. Alternatively you can still have an immediate temporary restoration that fits over the implant so there is no load on it, and if you have complete dentures, then you can wear them throughout the healing period once they have been adjusted after the surgery.
Are teeth difficult to clean?
Cleaning around the teeth attached to the implants is no more difficult than cleaning natural teeth. However, there may be areas that give you problems and you’ll be shown methods to help. We recommend a visit with the hygienist after your final restoration is fitted so bespoke advice can be given.
Can I take the teeth out if they are fixed to the implant?
Most artificial teeth attached to implants can only be placed and removed by the dentist. However, if you have removable dentures fixed to the implants by bars or locators, then you’ll be able to take them out for cleaning.
Implants are a safe, well-established, tried-and-tested treatment. It's probably true to say that implants, much like natural teeth, will last for as long as they are cared for. If implants are not cared for, they will develop a coating of plaque, similar to that found on neglected natural teeth. Left untreated, this can lead to gum infection, bone loss, bleeding, soreness and general discomfort, just as would occur with natural teeth.
If implants are well cared for, and if the bone they are fitted to is strong and healthy, they should last for many years. However, just as with other surgical implants (such as a hip replacement) there is no lifetime guarantee.
It is recommended that you attend for at least six-monthly prevention and plaque control visits because it is important that good oral hygiene is maintained to keep the implant margins clean and prevent plaque build-up. It is the your responsibility to look after the implant at home and maintain good oral hygiene procedures. How well the implants are looked after will have the biggest impact on how long they will last.