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Dental Implants- How implants can change your life as well as your smile.

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For some patients dental implants can make the difference to the quality of their life, improving it ten fold. Thanks to modern day technology implants can be used in cases where once only dentures were prescribed.
What are dental implants? How do they work? Will they hurt? These are just a few of the many questions people have when it comes to cosmetic dental implants. Here we try to explain the how, what, and when of implants.

What’s a dental implant?

A dental implant is normally made from titanium and acts as type of replacement for the root section of your natural tooth. This is then securely anchored into place into a drilled socket that has been made into your jaw. This may sound pretty invasive but thanks to anaesthetic it’s relatively pain free. The resulting implant can then be used either to secure dentures into place or help support bridges and crowns. Crucial to the success of this treatment is that the bone and metal overtime fuse together creating a stable and permanent support for any new teeth.

 How is a dental implant implanted?

Before any major treatment your dentist will assess the health of your teeth and gums. If there are any signs of gum disease or decay, these will be treated before an implant can be used. Following this you may undergo several x-rays and on occasion a CT scan. This will help to assess the quality of your bone and also to check for anything that may inhibit the drilling process. This occurs only whilst the patient has received local anaesthetic or on occasion IV sedation.

The gum is then lifted after a cut has been made and a hole is drilled into the jawbone in the area where the implant is to be placed. The implant is then pushed into this socket tightly where it is left to fuse with the surrounding tissues, this can take up to six months often teeth are given to the patient temporarily until the new permanent tooth arrives.

Why implants not dentures or bridges?

There are many reasons why people choose dental implants over traditional dentures or bridges here are a few of the reasons why:

Bone loss reduction
Normally the bone tissue surrounding the root of your tooth is maintained by your body’s own healing process. However, with time after tooth loss the bone where the tooth was held can start to disintegrate. This can affect the shape and line of your jaw. Thankfully a dental implant helps to maintain your body’s own natural bone structure and can help improve the body’s own bone growth.

Improved function
Once dental implants are integrated into the jaw it is hard to tell the difference between a natural and fake tooth. They have the same functionality, you can eat any food of your choice and can be confident in the strength of the tooth’s structure. The pluses of an implant compared to dentures are that food can get caught between the denture and the gum this can’t happen with an implant.

Improved dental hygiene
As long as you undertake a regular dental hygiene programme the negatives associated with dentures and bridges will not occur with implants making them a safer more hygienic choice.

No need to drill or remove any healthy tooth structure
When you have implants you are not relying on adjacent teeth to help support them. They are independent and so this makes them a sturdier choice over say bridges or crowns. Bridges or crowns rely on a healthy tooth often being removed to accommodate them. If a supporting tooth is damaged in some way the whole of the bridge restoration can become compromised. This is something that does not occur with dental implants.

More natural looking

Properly undertaken a dental implant should be unnoticeable. You should not be able to tell the difference between your natural tooth and that of an implant this provides the patient with a great natural look which cannot be said of some dentures or bridges. Sadly often you can see the metal clasps which are used to secure dentures and crowns in place making them look unsightly and unnatural.


Are dental implants suitable for me?

As long as your jawbone is fully developed anyone can have dental implants. Your bone needs to be of a decent quality and of course quality. However, having stated this any patient with a good dental hygiene programme should be eligible for this type of treatment and if not your dentist will let you know why this might not work in your individual case. There are exceptions to dental implants working successfully:

If you smoke or drink heavily this can hinder the healing process, which is key to implant success. If you have gum disease than this needs to be treated and healed before any implant procedure can be undertaken. For instance periodontal disease can result in bone loss which could compromise the success of any treatment undertaken.

If you are on steroids or suffer from any auto-immune diseases then this can affect treatment success. Finally if you grind your teeth then this can also have an impact on implant treatment but a splint or guard worn at night can help this.

Dental implants can be a great alternative to traditional dentures or bridges and can have amazing results. If you feel you may want to explore this area before deciding on dentures or similar treatment be sure to speak with your dentist to make sure you have all the facts before you make your decision.