If you have missing teeth or have problems with tooth decay, it can lead to complications with other areas of your mouth, like gum disease, uneven teeth loading along the jaw, and pressure on the remaining teeth. On a purely aesthetic level, a smile with gaps can draw attention for all the wrong reasons, and really knock a person confidence. Fortunately, dental implants can provide a long-term solution to all these problems. Generally defined, a tooth implant is a Titanium fixing that is screwed into the bone below the gums, then a natural looking crown can be attached to it. Titanium is used because it bonds well with human tissue and because it is much more durable than other materials.
Although most implants are based on the same principle, there are several different methods used – depending on what the specific problems were to begin with. Surgeons at the Pearl Dental Clinic, London, have lots of experience with dental implants and would be happy to assess your situation if you feel that you could benefit from them.
What is a root form dental implant?
This is the most widely used form of dental implant, mainly because they are so versatile and strong – they are fixed directly into the jawbone. Root form implants can be used to hold just one tooth or several, and they are great for patients who need to wear a bridge. To fix the screw into place, the dentist will cut into the gums and bones to make space for the implants to sit in, they will then suture the gums closed around the implant to hold it in place. It could take anywhere from three to six months for the titanium to fuse with the bone and become solid, so there is a certain amount of patience involved. It’s not a procedure for those wanting immediate results, but patients generally see a much longer lasting outcome with dental implants than some quick-fix options. After the implant has healed, the dentist can then fit an attachment to the end of it, which makes it possible to fix in the new crown.
Because root form implants require quite a lot of stabilising during the healing process, they are usually better suited to patients who have thicker jawbones, but dentists can perform a bone graft if they feel this would help prepare the area better for surgery.
What are plate form dental implants?
Employing the same technique as with root form implants, the dentist will make a small incision into the gums to expose the jawbone and insert a small metal plate to hold the new teeth. Plate form implants also need to be allowed to heal for a period of time before the treatment can continue, although in some circumstances the surgeon may recommend implanting the new teeth immediately. Plate form implants are also not ideal for patients with narrow jaws, because the thin bone won’t be able to support them.
What are mini implants?
Originally, these smaller implants were designed to be temporary fixtures until the full-sized versions were ready to be loaded, but they can actually be used as a long-term dental implant – mainly for smaller teeth. Although they don’t bond as well with the living bone, they are durable and come in handy when fixing dentures.
Mini implants are particularly helpful for those patients who have a thinner jaw line and would require a bone graft if they wanted a larger implant. This is because they are much smaller and don’t need as much width or height to be fixed into the jaw.
Mini dental implants also tend to be much cheaper than their full sized counterparts, making them a popular option with many patients.
How long do dental implants last?
With good maintenance and oral hygiene, over 95% of dental implants survive at least 10 years. Habits such as smoking increase the likelihood of gum disease and damage occurring to dental implants.