Missing teeth create so many problems. Firstly, they can affect self-confidence, making social situations, dinners, conversations and especially photos torture. Missing teeth also have an effect on the overall function of your mouth, thereby potentially affecting our overall health.
The rest of your teeth are forced to absorb the force of chewing, which can lead to further tooth loss and even jaw pain.
If you’re missing teeth, the most obvious choice is to have implants fitted. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect from a dental implant treatment.
What Is A Dental Implant?
A dental implant consists of two pieces. The first element is a titanium post that acts as an artificial root. The metal used is medical-grade and is known to be non-reactive to our human bone. Just like our hip/knee replacements. Once this post has been inserted, it is given time to fuse with the jawbone. Once the fusion is complete, a crown is placed on top of the post, and you have a brand-new tooth!
This is the usual process for a surgical implant procedure:
- The procedure is done in office, under local anaesthesia. You will be given pain medication to deal with any pain, and a diet of soft, cold food will be recommended.
- The fusion process usually takes about three to six months. The titanium post fuses with the bone in a jaw in a process known as osseointegration. If immediate aesthetic/function is required, you will be given a temporary crown to hide the post while you’re waiting for the permanent crown.
- During the osteointegration process, the gum tissue may cover the post. This will have to be uncovered later, and a healing collar is attached while the dentist makes your crown. In some occasions, instead of letting the gum covering the post, the dentist will have a thin cap called the healing abutment to cover the post while it is integrating.
- Once the crown is ready, it will be attached onto the post, and you have a tooth that you can brush, eat and do everything else with.
- Implants function exactly like a regular tooth, and they offer incredible security and stability
- You can clean them exactly as you do your natural teeth, so unlike dentures, there’s no need to remove and soak them overnight
- There is no need to alter the surrounding teeth to fit implants, so there is no loss of overall structure
- Implants prevent other teeth from shifting, which is essential in preserving your jawbone and the shape of your face
Are they Suitable for Everyone?
To have an implant, you need healthy gums and enough bone to actually support the post. Nowadays usually a particular type of scan called the Cone Beam CT scan will be prescribed in order to assess the quantity and quality of your bone to check the suitability and predictability of an implant. If you don’t have enough bone, the volume of your jawbone can be enhanced with simple grafting procedures.
Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and certain medical conditions e.g. people taking bisphophonate medication for osteoporosis can make the healing process less predictable or even make the procedure contra-indicated. Smoking is another major factor affecting the healing process. The risks will be assessed by your friendly dentist at the consultation appointment.
How to Care For Dental Implants
With proper care, your dental implants can last a very long time. Luckily, caring for your implants is as easy as caring for your natural teeth.
The first thing you need to do is follow an effective, at-home dental care regime. That means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and making sure you clean around your implants to prevent bacteria from settling on the gum tissue. You should also use an Australian Dental Association-approved mouthwash to remove any other bacteria.
Most importantly, you need to visit your dentist every six months. The professional clean conducted at these visits is vital in preventing the plaque and calculus build-up that contributes to tooth loss and gum disease. You cannot get tooth decay around your implant but you can certainly get gum disease, which in severe cases can lead to loss of implant(s). Your dentist will also be able to check on your implant and make sure everything is functioning as it should. Remember, one visit could be the difference between saving a tooth, and having to get it extracted.
Like aforementioned, if you are a smoker, you need to be aware that this will reduce the success rate of your implant. If you’re considering an implant, it may be worth reviewing your lifestyle and perhaps making some changes.
How Much Does An Implant Cost?
Considering an implant gives you a tooth for life, you can’t really put a price on this treatment. It does come at a cost, but many private health insurances will cover at least some of the cost. The total cost varies depending on the bone available in the site. For example, the cost will be more if bone/gum grafting is warranted.
Implants can also be paid for via SuperCare, a scheme which allows you to access some of your superannuation to pay for medical treatments.
Want to Learn More?
The team at dHealth Dentistry are experts in dental implants. We are more than happy to offer a free 15-min consultation to check your suitability and provide information on the entire process. Get in touch with us today!