Dental implants; what are they and how does it work?
Dental implants are used to replace a missing tooth or teeth, and are a mechanical tooth supported by a titanium implant. This is done over a number of stages with the final result of a natural looking tooth where there used to be a gap.
They have many advantages over other methods of replacing missing teeth as they stand independently to your other teeth and don’t place extra strain on your surrounding teeth. They allow full function and give a natural looking tooth or teeth in your gap.
Stage 1: Healing phase
Generally following removal of a tooth, a healing period of two to three months is needed for the gums and bone to heal and shrink into their new shape. If you have been missing a tooth or teeth for longer than three months already there is no need to wait, you can move straight to Stage 2.
During this healing phase, a temporary tooth replacement can be arranged which is especially useful in visible areas at the front of your mouth. This may be a removable denture/plate or a temporary bridge using your teeth either side for support.
Stage 2: Information gathering
Following the healing phase radiographic xrays, photos and moulds of your teeth and gums are required to check if you are suitable for an implant and if you have enough bone and gum to support a dental implant.
The moulds, photos and full mouth 2D xray are done first to have a general assessment of the area where the dental implant supported tooth or teeth are to be placed.
Once you are informed on what a dental implant is, a thin mouthguard with a mocked up tooth is then made to wear during a large CT xray to assess the jaw shape in three dimensions and plan your dental implant supported tooth.
Stage 3: Review of the dental implant planning
After Dr Kate carefully plans your implant position using the 3D xray model of your jaw, she will go through the plan with you discussing the procedure in detail specifically for your mouth and implant supported tooth. You will have all the information on your planned procedure and a full quote.
If for any reason you are not suitable for a dental implant you will find out at this stage, and plans for an alternative replacement for your tooth can begin.
Stage 4: Placement of your dental implant
Instructions will be given to you to take antibiotics and pain relievers immediately before your dental implant placement appointment. These are very useful to keep swelling, bruising and discomfort to a minimum.
The dental implant is usually placed under local anaesthetic at Tooth Dental and is generally a straightforward quick process. In some cases the dental implant will have a white healing cap poke
through to sculpt the gum shape, in others the dental implant will be covered with gum and uncovered at a later date.
Following dental implant placement, rest that day is recommended, although you can return to light duties at work if desired. Generally there is very minor swelling, bruising and discomfort for one or two days, with the minor swelling settling over a week.
One or two weeks later Dr Kate will review the dental implant area and remove any sutures remaining.
Stage 4: Healing and integration phase
Following dental implant placement a healing phase of approximately three months is required to allow your titanium implant to integrate and bond to your bone. After three months the implant will be checked with radiofrequency to ensure the dental implant is integrated and ready to have your tooth placed, supported by your dental implant.
Stage 5: Moulds and placement of your tooth
Moulds and photos of your dental implant can now be taken and sent to a dental laboratory to make your tooth supported by your dental implant. Generally the laboratory requires two weeks to make your crown fit and match perfectly. Then your dentist can place your dental implant crown and you can smile widely, eat normally and enjoy your natural looking dental implant supported crown.
Your dental implant supported crown will require some maintenance and regular checks which are generally done as part of your six monthly examination and clean with your dentist.