Dental implants are used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. People frequently elect to have a dental implant if they do not wish to have a gap, don’t want a partial denture, or lost a tooth in an accident.
A titanium screw is placed into the jaw bone where it integrates with the bone. On top of this a porcelain crown or dentures are fitted over the implant.
A implant can be used to replace just the single tooth, or multiple implants can be used to replace dentures.
Getting a dental implant is a multi stage process and takes several months to a year to complete. It will involve an Oral Surgeon or Periodontist and your dentist.
You will require a consultation prior to any treatment being done. The consultation will involve:
- A discussion about you, your medical history, your medications and if you are a smoker.
- Xrays and sometimes 3D scans will be taken.
- Models of your mouth will be taken to look at your bite and how the implants will fit.
- Careful assessment of your remaining teeth will also be made.
- You will be referred to the Oral Surgeon or Periodontist who specialise in the placement of the dental implant. The will also have a consultation with you prior to beginning the treatment.
Once it is established that you are a good candidate for the implant, the Oral Surgeon or Periodontist will place the implant. This is usually done with local anaesthetic and some sedation. The process is painless and the recovery very easy.
The implant may then be immediately loaded – ie a crown is placed immediately on top. Or alternatively it may be left to heal under the gum for around 4-12 months. In the delayed implant you will be given a denture or a temporary bridge to fill the gap.
When the healing is completed you then return to us where models are taken to make the crown on top. About two weeks later the crown will be completed and fitted. You walk out smiling.
You will need to return at regular intervals 3-12 monthly for hygiene cleans and assessment as per if you had regular teeth.
Are there any risks?
Dental implants are incredibly successful and have been used for many years. This means we can comfortably say that they work well, and have a high success rate (around 90% success rate).
With any procedure involving the human body there are some risks. The consultation is done to ensure you are a good candidate for a dental implant and to minimise risks.
Known risks are:
Gum disease and infection – yes an implant can be lost due to infection in the gums and bone surrounding it, exactly like a normal tooth. You will be required to have regular hygiene clean appointments after having an implant placed to prevent this occurring.
Fracture – implants and the porcelain crown placed on top of the implant can fracture with trauma and bruxism (grinding). You may be given a bite splint to wear at night to help protect the implant.
Failure to integrate into the bone – this is unlikely but more common in smokers and those on certain medications that affect the bone.
In suitable candidates implants are one of the most successful dental treatments available today.
ACC and implants
ACC can help cover the costs of an implant if you have lost a tooth due to an accident. They do not fully cover the costs. There are conditions that must be met before they consider helping pay. These conditions do change but currently include:
You are a non-smoker
You are over 18-20 years
You have had no teeth extracted from your first molars forward (orthodontic extractions are accepted). If you have had teeth extracted you must have replaced these with either a bridge, implant or orthodontically closed at your expense.
You must have 5 years worth of dental records showing that you are a regular attender and take care of your mouth.
You must sign a form saying you know what the additional charges are – and that you will pay these.
If you have had an accident and the dentist has mentioned you may need an implant in the future – then please do follow the conditions to help ensure you meet the criteria for when you do need an implant.