Dental Implants

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are one of the possible options available to patients to replace a missing tooth or teeth. When a patient has a missing tooth, or teeth, there are usually four possible options for treatment:

  1. Accept the gap. This can only be considered as an option if the gap is small, and the absence of the tooth, or teeth, does not have functional or aesthetic consequences.
  2. A removable denture. This is a more traditional option and is considered to be an effective and economic option particularly if many teeth are missing. However, many patients do not like the fact that dentures are removable, and that they do not feel as secure as bridgework or dental implants.
  3. A conventional bridge. Conventional bridgework refers to a false tooth (or teeth) that is held securely in place by utilising adjacent teeth for support. For this to be successful there usually needs to be teeth of adequate quality and strength at either end of the relevant gap. Also, in many cases preparation of teeth to act as bridge supports can adversely affect their long term health.
  4. Dental implant(s). Dental implants are basically titanium cylinders, which act as a replacement for the natural root of your tooth, and are surgically placed in the bone of your mouth. Titanium has an unusual property, in that when it is specially prepared bone will grow onto it. Therefore, once healed, they can act as excellent anchors for later attachment of a crown or bridge. They can also, with the use of special precision attachments, be used to aid denture retention. They have the great advantage of feeling like a natural tooth without compromising the health of the neighbouring teeth. They can provide an excellent long term replacement of teeth lost due to decay, accident or gum disease. Also, once in place they help prevent further bone shrinkage that would otherwise occur following tooth loss. They enjoy an excellent success rate in most cases. In the longer term, they represent a very cost effective method of replacing lost teeth. However, it should be noted that, like natural teeth, implants will need regular reviews and maintenance, as well as requiring a good standard of daily oral hygiene, to ensure long term success.

Who is suitable?

Most patients are suitable candidates for dental implant therapy. The main limiting factor relates to the quality and quantity of bone present in the proposed implant site. Once a tooth is lost or extracted, the local bone begins to shrink in volume. The greater the time span between tooth loss and subsequent implant placement, the greater will be the bone deficiency. This may make it difficult or impossible to place a successful implant. In such cases bone augmentation procedures may have to be employed at the time of implant placement or as a separate procedure prior to implant placement.

Patients wishing to have dental implant therapy will need to have good oral health. Any underlying gum disease will firstly need to be controlled. Gum disease around dental implants is difficult to treat and it can ultimately lead to early failure of treatment.

Smoking reduces the success rate of dental implant therapy and increases the risk of surgical complications.

There is no upper age limit for dental implant therapy, but caution should be taken with young patients. Due to continued facial growth and development, dental implants should not be placed in patients until they reach their late teens at the earliest. Implant placement at ages below this limit can result in relative movement of the implant, meaning that the implant can drift into an incorrect position. This can cause significant functional and aesthetic problems.

Implant Animations

Please click the play button to watch a short animation on our Implants procedure.

Please click the play button to watch a short animation on Ridge Preservation.

Please click the play button to watch a short animation on a Sinus Lift procedure.

Further Information

For further information on dental implants, you may find the following links useful: