Healthy, natural teeth can be the basis of a really great smile. If we are honest we all want that perfect smile, but sometimes illness, an accident, or just the normal wear and tear of life can cause damage or tooth loss. But what if there was a way for you to get that full beautiful smile back, as well as that favourite dish you’ve been avoiding! We’d like to tell you a bit about dental implants.
These days, dental implants aren’t only for the rich and famous
You don’t have to be a celebrity to want great looking teeth, and you don’t have to spend the earth either. In recent years, dental implants have become much more affordable, much easier to fit, and much more sophisticated in design.
They make your smile look good on the outside, they’ll help to stabilise your overall oral health, and you’ll find permanent implants more comfortable and convenient than removable dentures. Basically, professional dental implants are the next best thing to having your own natural teeth back.
So, let’s start with the basics. What is a dental implant?
A single dental implant is basically a permanently fixed prosthetic tooth. It’s fitted by a dental surgeon and is a high quality, carefully crafted replacement that’s designed to last a long time, and with just about the same strength and versatility as a real tooth.
To us as dentists the biggest benefit is that we are able to offer our clients a fixed permanent solution to almost any problem we are presented with. This means we can replace single missing teeth; stabilise loose dentures or ever replace a whole mouth with fixed teeth. Any of these options can quiet literally be life changing.
Mark Durnall – BDS, DPDS
In the same way as a normal tooth, the dental implant is anchored safely into the jaw bone – though, of course, an implant is screwed in, rather than rooted. The bone heals naturally around the implanted post to keep it firmly in place, and the dental crown goes over the top.
There are a range of situations where dental implants can be a great solution.
When your teeth aren’t as good as new anymore, it’s not just your smile that can suffer. Damaged or missing teeth can affect your eating, leaving you having to be extra-careful when selecting food to make sure it won’t cause your mouth a problem. Trying to adjust how you eat to compensate for a broken tooth can lead to even more accidental damage. In time, teeth can erode further. Dental implants can give you back the chance to eat those ‘forbidden foods’ you like again, safely and comfortably.
It’s not just about the discomfort of eating. Missing teeth can cause other complications. Gums can recede, other teeth can move around in your mouth, or even become loose and fall out, and there can be bone loss due to gum infection. But a dental implant increases what we call ‘oral stability.’ In other words, your mouth is more safely protected from these kind of problems.
And how about your self-confidence? For some people, a lost or broken tooth can take a toll on how they feel other people perceive them. A gap, or a few missing or broken teeth can stop you feeling quite so relaxed about smiling and laughing. You can end up feeling you need to cover your mouth when you speak. Well, dental implants mean you can relax. With a full set of teeth again, your speaking will sound more like you again, without the discomfort and distortions that missing or broken teeth can cause. Dental implants are contoured and designed for your smile alone; tailor made to be a perfect fit, so you don’t have to hide.
Dental implants can have a profound effect on a persons self confidence. Being able to give a person their smile back, is fantastic moment for our patients and our dental team.
Fixed dental implants allow a person to laugh naturally and be confident that their teeth look great and not worry about how their teeth look, or whether they will even stay in! Dental implants also give you the confidence to eat foods that you may have been avoiding or struggling to eat for years.
Paul Baker – BDS
Of course, we can’t guarantee that having dental implants will make all your dreams come true! But they can certainly improve everyday life for people whose dental health has been causing them these kinds of problems.
Nowadays, dental implants have a similar strength and function to natural teeth
You can’t wish back your natural teeth once they’ve been lost, but the great news is that today’s ranges of dental implants have almost the same durability and functionality. That means you can eat and drink as normal, and the feel of those you have replaced is much like the comfort of natural teeth.
The biocompatible design of dental implants means the jawbone integrates them naturally, strengthening and stabilising them naturally. As long as you clean and maintain things properly, this kind of ‘endosteal’ implant could last for 20 years.
You can access a free online book from the Association of Dental Implantology (ADI) website, which provides full and objective guidance for patients thinking about having implants. The ADI is a registered charity, and offers advice without commercial bias. The illustrative book is clear and informative and well worth a look.
— No.65 (@No65TheDental) December 5, 2016
Are there other options available?
The BACD (British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry) calls dental implants the ‘gold standard for permanently replacing missing teeth.’ However, if you decide against dental implants, or your dentist advises you they’re not suitable for you, there are other possible solutions. You could choose to have removable full or partial dentures instead, but they won’t be quite as comfortable and they take a lot more maintenance than implants. Of course, the major difference is that dentures are removable whereas implants are permanently fixed.
Remember, although a single implant can replace one individual tooth, you could decide to have an implant that replaces a number of teeth at once. A fixed bridge implant allows the permanent replacement of additional teeth, but without having each one replaced with a whole implant. You could have a full set of high quality individual implants fitted if necessary, or an ‘teeth in a day’ implant – a full replacement of upper or lower arch of teeth that’s fixed with 4 or 6 implants (as the name suggests) rather than having every tooth anchored separately into the jaw. It’s a common procedure and a cost-effective alternative. It just depends what you and your dental surgeon decide is right for you.
Technology continues to develop at speed, and this is certainly the case in modern dentistry. Costs have come down, the required surgery is simpler, and the implants themselves are more sophisticated. Patients considering dental implants these days can expect much higher quality and longer lasting oral and cosmetic results at much more affordable prices.
Tooth damage and loss happens to young and old, and dental implants are suitable in most cases
It really is worth keeping teeth as long as you can, for the benefit of your whole smile. Interestingly, tooth loss is usually more about poor dental hygiene or nutritional problems than simply about getting older. Whether you’re young or not so young, certain illnesses can result in tooth loss. There are even genetic conditions where adult teeth never grow. Having dental implants doesn’t mean you’re getting old.
Even if someone’s teeth are strong and healthy, a heavy impact can leave them dislodged. The tooth could still stay in place, but with damage to the root that remains unseen for a period of several months or longer, until finally the tooth drops out.
With one missing tooth, then others around it, are also likely to be affected, moving position, making your mouth feel uncomfortable, especially when you’re eating or biting your teeth together. Further breakages and bone loss are more likely. If you can’t reach to clean your teeth properly because they’ve grown into unusual positions, you have more likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease.
Sometimes tooth decay is so advanced it can’t be remedied through usual approaches such as root canal treatment. When a tooth has died in this way, sometimes it is extracted by a dental surgeon to avoid prolonged discomfort or complications. Gum disease is another common cause of tooth loss. It happens when oral infections cause gum inflammation, which causes a breakdown in the tissue surrounding the teeth, and deterioration in the ligaments that hold them in place. It’s possible for gum disease to cause the bone to retract from the teeth leading the root to become exposed to the kinds of bacteria that can cause tooth decay and loss.
For many people, the deciding questions about dental implants will be, does it hurt, and how much does it cost
Mostly, dental implants are fitted under local anaesthetic, which means you’ll be awake during the whole procedure. This is acceptable to most patients, but if you have any concerns or worries, just have a chat with us in advance. If necessary, we can arrange one of a number of different sedative options to help make things more comfortable and relaxing for you. Don’t worry, we’ll always discuss this with you when you come for your first appointment. Your comfort and peace of mind is really important to us.
As for the financial outlay, the further good news is that the cost of implants has come down substantially in recent years. Like any other dental procedure, the actual price varies according to the materials used and extent of work involved. There’s the preparation, which for some patients includes work to restore the bone. There’s also the crown, and the implant itself, onto which the crown sits.
If you need more than one tooth replaced, there are ways we may be able to reduce the overall cost for you. Modern dentistry techniques allow for multiple teeth to be added to a fixed bridge that is built onto the tooth or teeth that are physically implanted, meaning a substantial reduction in the cost. It’s worth investigating. If you have dental or health insurance, you may be entitled to a rebate on the cost of surgery, depending on the details of your insurance cover. Check the details of your policy with your insurer.
So there you have a simple introduction to dental implants. The overall message is that the benefits are far more than simply cosmetic, and when you’re weighing up the price of implant surgery, you’ll want to consider the health benefits, as well as the improvements to your general wellbeing, and social confidence. As the BDA (British Dental Association) points out, there are many advantages to the dental implants but they aren’t suitable for everyone. Healthy gums and a general good state of health are important. At your dental consultation you can find out about your suitability and discuss other options if necessary.
Why not contact us to arrange for a chat to find out if dental implants would suit you.