What are they?
Dental implants are the most modern and innovative way of replacing missing teeth. Implants have revolutionised dentistry and have given a new lease of life to patients who – through age, decay or trauma – have lost teeth. A dental implant is a tiny titanium post that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line. After it is placed, the titanium fuses with the jawbone and the implant then acts as the root of the tooth, which means we can mount replacement teeth (crowns) or a bridge onto it, or use it to give added stability to a denture. We can now even permanently fix dentures in place using implants if you so desire, which can dramatically improve your quality of life.
An implant is permanent, which means you have all the comfort of a natural tooth and can eat and chew as normal. Dental implants have had a really transformational effect on the lives of people with missing teeth. Damian Flanagan, the principal dentist at O3 Dental, has trained at the Royal College of Surgeons and is considered one of the UK’s leading implantologists. Damian has been rejuvenating smiles for more than 25 years and many patients travel considerable distances to benefit from his expertise.
What are the benefits?
Some people can’t use removable dentures, so implants might be your last chance to eat and speak properly while improving your appearance. Implants can keep a denture very stable and whatever the type of artificial tooth, people will not be able to see that your teeth are supported by implants.
Are implants for you?
We will advise you whether implants would be right for you. You will need to have healthy gums, but if you don’t have enough jawbone to take the titanium posts and support the replacement teeth we can develop your bone mass with bone grafting. Typically when a tooth decays or is lost and left untreated, the jawbone where the tooth was begins to diminish. You must be prepared to maintain good oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly because good oral health is crucial to the long term success of implants.
While the overall success rate of implants is very high, some chronic diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis or chronic sinus problems can interfere with healing and make implants more likely to fail. Make sure that you talk to us honestly about any medicines that you take regularly, and your smoking habits. Implants involve undergoing dental surgery in our clinic twice or more over a period of several months. Since they are a complex treatment, implants can be expensive.
What does the treatment involve?
To receive implants you must have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. If there isn’t enough bone we can help with bone grafting beforehand. To place an implant we will need to give you a local aesthetic – occasionally sedation or a general anaesthetic is used – and make a small incision into your gum to expose the bone. We will then drill a small hole into your jawbone into which we place the implant, leaving the head of the titanium post sticking out. We then stitch the gum closed so the whole area can heal. You will then need to wait several months for the bone to fuse to the implant. After this time we can expose the head of the implant just beneath the gum and attach an artificial tooth, and you can rediscover the simple joy of eating and chewing all types of foods. In most cases, placing a single dental implant takes about an hour.