A dental implant is a cosmetic dentistry option to replace missing teeth, providing a secure and durable replacement that looks just like a natural tooth.
Dental implants are permanent replacements for missing teeth that have been lost due to poor dental health or injury. Dental implants are commonly used to replace a single missing tooth; however, multiple teeth can be replaced with multiple implants or an implant-supported bridge (to replace 3 or 4 missing teeth).
WHAT DOES THE PROCEDURE INVOLVE?
The dentist will take X-Rays and moulds of your mouth to ensure you are a good candidate for the procedure. You will have either general or local anesthesia for this procedure, to ensure your comfort.
In the first step of the process, a small incision is made in the jaw and a titanium screw is implanted in the jaw. The jaw bone will heal around the implant.
The second step involves fitting a tooth-coloured porcelain crown on top of the titanium screw. The crown is designed so that it fits snugly in between existing teeth — and looks like your other natural teeth in terms of shape and colour, so it looks natural.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF DENTAL IMPLANTS?
Dental implants restore the function of your jaw, making it easier to chew and talk. They are comfortable, permanent and durable – there are no restrictions to what you can eat and don’t need any special cleaning.
Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant prevents other teeth from shifting position. This also helps keep the jawbone strong, preventing an aging sunken cheek appearance. Dental implants are a long-term solution and will not move position over time, restoring confidence in your smile.
The most common complication after getting an implant is infection; this is why it’s important to maintain excellent oral hygiene and follow the aftercare instructions.
WHO IS SUITABLE FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS?
Not everyone is suitable for dental implants. To be eligible the following criteria must be met:
Sufficient bone density in the jaw to support the implant (some people can have a bone graft to rectify insufficient jawbone)
Excellent oral health (no gum disease or tooth decay)
No or well-managed leukaemia or diabetes (as these conditions slow the healing process)
It is also better if candidates are not smokers or tobacco chewers, as smoking can result in dental implant failure – as tobacco impairs the healing process. Smokers can still have dental implants as long as they don’t smoke before, during and after the procedure.
When discussing your suitability for implants, be sure to mention any other medical conditions and medications you are currently taking.
HOW LONG DO DENTAL IMPLANTS LAST?
The titanium screw of a dental implant should last for the rest of your life — and the crown on top of the implant will need replacing every 10-15 years.
AFTERCARE FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS
After the titanium screw has been implanted in your jaw, it’s important to follow aftercare instructions — to optimise the healing process and minimise the risk of complications. Recommended aftercare includes:
Dental implants can be cleaned the same as natural teeth, i.e., flossing and brushing twice daily.
CAN YOU STILL GET TEETH WHITENING WITH IMPLANTS?
The colour of dental implants is matched to your natural teeth, a fact to consider before the procedure. You may want teeth whitened before your implant procedure.
Dental implants cannot be whitened — so any teeth whitening after an implant will only whiten the natural teeth, not the implant.
It’s also useful to note that although porcelain is generally resistant to staining, the crown on top of the implant may become discoloured over time – especially if you drink a lot of red wine or coffee.
IS IT TIME FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS?
Dental implants undeniably the best and most effective method of replacing missing or irreversibly damaged teeth.
Implants look, feel and act more like natural teeth than the best dentures. Dental implants also have the added bonus of requiring no special cleaning or attention once set in place — and they are durable and long lasting.
While this procedure may not be suitable for some people, it’s worth discussing with your dentist. Advances in technology have made this procedure applicable for growing numbers of patients – giving them the great smile they’ve wanted.
Dental implants are commonly used to replace a single missing tooth; however, multiple teeth can be replaced with multiple implants or an implant-supported bridge