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Dental Implants

What are Dental Implants?

People lose teeth all the time, either through trauma when teeth are knocked out, or due to decay, gum disease or old age. Whatever the reason for loosing your teeth they need to be replaced both for aesthetic and functional reasons. The most common treatments for missing teeth are either a denture or a fixed bridge. However, dental implants are now becoming a more popular treatment to replace missing teeth as they provide a longer-term solution, slow down bone loss and preserve nearby healthy tooth tissue.

A dental implant is an artificial replacement for the root portion of your natural tooth and is anchored into a pre-drilled socket in your jaw-bone to support a crown, bridge or secure a denture firmly in place. Implants are made from titanium, a material that is well tolerated by bone and integrates easily with bone tissue. During the placement of a dental implant the goal is to achieve a close contact between the outer surface of the implant and the surrounding bone tissue so they can "fuse” together creating a stable support for the new teeth.

The Procedure

Before any implants are placed it is important for your dentist to assess the health of your teeth and gums, if there are any signs of gum disease or decay these must be treated first.

Following this your treatment will be planned following several x-rays and a CT scan in some cases to assess that bone quality and check for nearby anatomical structures to avoid before any drilling. The procedure is usually carried out under local anaesthesia .

The gum where the implant is to be placed is cut and lifted and a small hole is drilled in the jawbone at the precise location of the intended implant. The titanium implant is tightly fitted into this socket and the gum is stitched back over the implant. If there is insufficient bone material to accommodate the implant a bone graft may be required or alternatively the dentist may use smaller sized mini implants if suitable.

Once the implant has been placed it is left to heal and integrate with the jawbone for between 6 weeks to 6 months. The bone tissue will grow and anchor itself into the microscopic rough surface of the implant.

During this "healing period” patients are given temporary teeth (bridges) or continue to wear dentures. It is important that any temporary teeth do not exert any forces on the healing implant. After the healing period the gum is lifted again and a post is attached to the implant with a temporary crown. Four to six weeks later when the surrounding gum tissue has matured the final permanent restoration can be fitted to the implant.

Most Common Questions

Why have dental implants become so popular?

The tremendous popularity of implants has largely been the result of people living longer and their desire to fulfill a lifestyle with the greatest possible pleasure. Implants give us the ability to restore something that is fundamental to our own body. Almost everyone wants to smile more frequently and feel more secure when they talk and laugh. Dental implants allow you to do everything you want with total self-assurance.

How long have dental implants been available?

Although the first dental implants are over 2000 years old, they have only been a viable alternative in the last 35 years or so.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are medically pure titanium devices that are placed into the jawbone. They act as an anchor to provide a solid base for artificial tooth replacement. Titanium is used in other surgical procedures such as knee and hip replacements.

Who is a good candidate for dental implants?

Anyone in reasonable health who wants to replace missing teeth; those who are dissatisfied with their present denture; those people who would like to eat better and with more comfort, smile more frequently and feel more secure when they talk and laugh. In some instances, some patients may not have sufficient bone available for the placement of implants. In these patients, new bone can be added by ridge augmentation procedures.

What are the benefits of dental implants?

Patients with implants have stated that they eat better, are more comfortable when they eat, and don’t have to use denture adhesive to retain their dentures. They also say that they can talk and laugh without feeling self-conscious and without fear of their dentures slipping out. All these improvements make people with dentures feel better about themselves, increasing their self confidence while improving their social and business lives.

Am I too old for dental implants?

Age is not a deterrent. Anyone healthy enough to undergo routine dentistry is healthy enough to have dental implants placed. The oldest patient that Dr Miodrag Mitic placed dental implants is 84 years old.

What is the success rate of dental implants?

If the treatment is properly planned, the surgery accomplished following accepted rules of practice, the prosthesis fabricated correctly and the prosthesis properly maintained by the patient, success rates are in excess of 98%. There are factors, however, beyond the control of both the dentist and patient that can affect the life of an implant. Lifestyle changes, accidents, and illnesses can all have a negative affect.

How long will my implants last?

There are few things in life that last a lifetime and dental implants are no different. Should a problem arise, it normally does during the first six months to a year following surgery, during the period of bone healing. After this period, problems appear to be less frequent, with only occasional bite adjustments required.

What types of restorations can be placed on implants?

Implants can be used in a variety of circumstances ranging from a removable denture to fixed crowns, bridges, and orthodontic appliances.

How many implants will I need?

Dr Miodrag Mitic can provide you with a thorough consultation to bring about the best treatment alternatives available to meet your present budget. Why should I even consider getting dental implants? Apart from being able to smile, eat, sing and speak better; dental implants prevent the onset of poor facial profile due to loss of bone mass in your jaw bone. Natural jaw bone is only designed to last approximately 30 years before it completely deteriorates and dental implants are not an option. Implants prevent bone loss by transmitting load forces during the chewing process down into the jawbone. The jawbone reacts to this loading by increasing the bone density. Implants are well known in their ability to stop bone loss and restore facial skeletal structure while significantly improving nutrition.

What kind of foods can I eat with implants?

Implants will allow you to enjoy foods like raw carrots, corn on the cob and apples that you may have avoided for years. Implant supported dentures can triple your biting force allowing you to eat any hard food that your original teeth were once able to do.

How do implants on dentures compare to normal dentures?

Dentures fixed to dental implants will give you an enhanced improvement in your quality of life that standard dentures can not provide. McGill University in Toronto conducted a study to determine if people, especially the elderly, can improve their chewing ability and nutrition if they wear dentures anchored by implants. After 6 months, the group with dental implants did not only increase their body fat but blood tests recorded significantly higher levels of albumin, hemoglobin (Iron) and vitamin B12 – all indicators of nutrition. The study group also reported significant improvements in their ability to chew meat and hard vegetables and did not avoid foods they did in the past.

Will implant procedures cause much discomfort?

The discomfort experienced after the placement of implants is generally equivalent to that experienced from the extraction of a tooth. Most implants are placed using local anesthetic only. Sedation can be used with the more apprehensive patients and occasionally, if extensive surgery is required, a general anesthetic may be recommended. The use of dental implants is designed to help you avoid pain and discomfort.

How long is the entire process?

The entire process typically takes about 2-3 month.

How long do I have to wait to resume my daily activities?

In most cases, you can resume normal activities the day following the placement of your implants.

Is there special care needed with my implants?

Along with normal brushing and flossing, a periodic check-up with your dentist is required. They will check the individual implants and clean around the posts if necessary. Dental implants do not suffer from normal teeth problems such as decay and hot/cold sensitivity.

Can I still get implants if I have a fear of dentists?

Yes, it is normal to have some level of anxiety towards dentists. Most dental fears are related to an early experience during your childhood. We are capable of assisting you in dealing with those fears to enable you to have the opportunity to improve your overall physical health and appearance.