When describing dental implants, the best comparison is to your natural teeth. A natural tooth consists of two parts, the root of the tooth buried below the gum line, and the white enamel that is visible above it. Similarly, a dental implant has the titanium component buried invisibly below the gum, and on top of it the porcelain crown which is matched to the color of your own teeth.
The titanium implants we use at Portobello Dental Clinic are fabricated by Nobel Biocare; the world’s biggest implant company who pioneered the technology in the early 1980s. Titanium is extremely strong, resistant to corrosion and well tolerated by the body.
When the implant is placed in the jaw, the bone and gum heals around it in a process that can take between three and six months.
"Once integration has been established, it is time to attach the porcelain crown on top of the implant. The abutment (connector) can be made from titanium (as in this picture), or from zirconium, which is tooth coloured.
When do we use implants?
- A single missing tooth at the front or back (implant crown)
- Many or all missing teeth (implant bridge). It may not be necessary to place one implant for every missing tooth, e.g. 3 porcelain teeth can be attached to two implants
- Under complete dentures. There is an enormous improvement in the fit, comfort and chewing ability of dentures that are attached to implants.
Less common uses of implants include:
- Implants can also be placed under partial dentures to improve the fit, and remove the need for unsightly clasps
- They can also be used as an anchor point for orthodontics during treatment to straighten teeth. The implant is typically removed once the orthodontic treatment is complete.
Advantages of dental implants:
- Very high success rate (92% of implants still function well after 10 years)
- Conservative treatment – no grinding down of adjacent teeth
- Feel just like your own teeth
- Never decay
- Restore proper chewing and full strength of your bite
- Prevent further bone loss once placed
- Good cosmetics
Are there any disadvantages?
- Higher cost than alternative treatments to replace missing teeth
- Requires one or more surgical procedures
- Can take 4-12 months to complete
- Sometimes can be difficult to control the shape of the gum around the implant, particularly when replacing a single front tooth.