Dental implants have revolutionised modern dentistry by allowing dentists to replace multiple or single teeth, usually without the need for dentures. The prostheses usually attached to the implant (crowns or bridges, and sometimes dentures) are often indistinguishable from natural teeth, but this outcome can only be achieved with careful planning, a precise surgical technique and customised fabrication.
There are two types of dental implant: conventional and mini. Conventional implants measure approximately 3 to 5 millimetres in diameter, while mini implants measure up to 3 millimetres in diameter.
All implants are designed to integrate with the jaw bone, which is why we call them osseointegrated implants. Mini implants are used in multiples to improve the stability of a denture. They are not currently indicated for single tooth replacement.
Generally, the implant is left alone for two months for healing to take place before being checked, although sometimes this is done sooner. Next, impressions are taken and these are used to construct the final prosthesis – a process that can take approximately 10 working days. Finally, your clinician will carefully check the fit of the prosthesis with the dental implant and surrounding teeth to see whether it is in the best position for your bite. The aesthetics of the prosthesis will also be checked and fine-tuned to match your own teeth.
The procedure for both types of dental implant is carried out by a prosthodontist.
Prosthodontists are specialist dentists who have trained specifically in the field of dental implants and have competed at least several hundred restorations as part of their training. Although it may seem like a simple procedure, the experience and expertise of a Prosthodontist may reduce the complexity of the case by carefully planning the final crown or bridge even before the implant surgery to ensure a good aesthetic result. Expert advice at the correct time can save unnecessary procedures, time and money in the long term.
The procedure to place an implant is normally painless and most patients say it is more comfortable than having a tooth extracted.