A dental implant is an increasingly popular way to replace missing teeth. Simply, it’s a screw that is placed in the bone. The screw is most commonly made of titanium.
The cells in your bone enjoy having the titanium around and they knit themselves all over it, trying to get close to the screw. This locks the screw firmly in place. It takes about 3 months for this to happen. Once this screw is there and happy, it can be used to replace teeth in loads of different ways.
The simplest thing that you can do is to put a crown on top of the screw to replace a single tooth. If you have a gap where you have lost one tooth and the teeth either side are intact and untouched by dentists, it will often be your best option. The benefit of replacing a single tooth with an implant is that it is fixed in your mouth and it doesn’t damage or put extra pressure on the nearby teeth.
If you have one or more implants in a bigger gap, you can attach a bridge to the implants to replace more teeth. If you have no teeth, you can sometimes even have a complete bridge fixed to several implants that replaces every tooth.
The final thing you can do is use implants to support dentures. This can be particularly good if you have a lower denture that rocks about. Lower dentures are much harder to get on with that upper dentures. They can’t cover as much area to get suction because the tongue is in the way. This is why lots of people struggle with lower dentures. If you have 2 or 3 implants under a denture, you can get a denture that clicks into place and is much more solid. The denture still needs to be taken out at night but it does mean that when it’s in, it will stay in.
Downsides of Dental Implants
Dental implants are great and have loads of different uses. However, it does require a minor surgical procedure to place the implant. Your dentist will need to make a little nick in the gum to move it out of the way to place the screw.
After the procedure, there is the risk of discomfort, pain and swelling. Your dentist will advise you on what to expect, depending on the complexity and length of the procedure. Most patients cope very well with any discomfort after treatment.
A few days after placing the screw, you will probably need to see your dentist to check everything is healing okay and to take the stitches out. Then it will normally be a few weeks before you see the dentist again to begin to make what’s going to fit on top of the implant to fill the gap of the missing tooth.
I should say that it is not always possible to fill a gap with a dental implant. The screw needs to be placed in bone. If there is no bone there because it has shrunk away over time or was lost because of infection, it may not be possible to place a dental implant. Sometimes it is possible to create more bone by cleverly grafting or using artificial bone. This does add a degree of difficulty and may not always be appropriate or possible. Your dentist would need to assess if there is enough bone or if it’s possible to make more bone.
Something that needs to be considered about dental implants is that it will generally be the most costly way to replace a tooth. You should be aware that if you see a very cheap price advertised for an implant, it may be because they haven’t included the cost for the crown or whatever you need to go on top. It’s impossible to do super cheap implants because the equipment and the implants themselves are so expensive. Just be aware that bargain prices for dental implants may be too good to be true.
If you forget the money side, impossible as that is, dental implants are a fantastic option to replace missing teeth.