What exactly is a dental implant?
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 colour of your own teeth.
When are dental implants used
- 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.
Why the need to replace missing teeth?
Missing teeth can have a significant impact not only on your appearance, but also on your self-confidence and your overall health.
- An off-bite relationship: Having gaps where teeth are missing affects the way the jaw closes. For example, an adjacent tooth may tilt or drift into an open space left by a missing tooth causing the opposing jaw line to have bite-relationship problems. TMJ (acute and chronic pain and problems with the jaw joint) may be caused by tooth loss. In addition, food can become trapped in open spaces, increasing the risk of decay and gum disease.
- Jawbone deterioration: As soon as a tooth is lost from gum disease or an extraction, the supporting bone in the jaw begins to dissolve. This process is called resorption. The longer a tooth is missing, the greater the bone loss. Over time, more and more of the jawbone disintegrates until it becomes weak and noticeably smaller.
- Nutrition: As teeth are lost, it becomes more difficult to eat and chew food. Studies have shown that 29% of denture wearers eat only soft or mashed foods and 50% avoid many foods altogether.
What are the alternatives if I don’t want dental implants?
- A denture – a removable appliance, which generally feels bigger and more foreign in the mouth than implants do.
- Porcelain bridgework – false teeth fixed in place, attached to the teeth either side of a gap. Bridges may put some strain on the supporting teeth.
How long does the treatment take?
It depends on how complicated your treatment is, where the teeth are to be placed, and the quality of gum and jawbone in the area. We will be able to give you a timetable after your initial assessment. As a guideline, expect a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 12 months from the initial assessment to the time when the new teeth are finally attached to the implants.
What is the typical success rate for dental implants?
People have found huge success with implants, typically 95% of implants will function after 10+ years. Some instances can occur where an implant might fail. Failure might happen where there is a loss of bone structure around the implant, tooth grinding in some instances can loosen the implant. Our implant expert however can discuss any concerns you many have beforehand.
Who is your implant expert?
Dr. Nick Beirne is our implant expert – he has many years of experience in doing implants. Read more about Dr. Beirne here, alternatively if you would like to book an appointment with him you can call us on 01 4542022 or book online here .