What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a titanium metal post which is placed into the jawbone. It is used to support one or more missing teeth.
Are implants safe and how long will they last?
Implants are a well-established, tried-and-tested treatment. Dental implants should last a lifetime with the right care.
I have some of my own teeth, can I still have implants?
Yes. You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants from one single tooth to a complete set.
Can implants always be used to replace missing teeth?
It depends on the state of the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will arrange for a number of special tests to find out the amount of bone still there. If there is not enough, or if it isn’t healthy enough, it may not be possible to place implants without grafting bone into the area first.
How long does treatment take?
Your dentist will be able to give you a rough timetable before the treatment starts. Usually the permanent teeth are fitted 6 to 9 months after the implants are put in. Some teeth can now even be fitted at the same time as the implants (known as immediate implants) but you should check with your dentist to see whether these are suitable for you.
What happens next?
The implants need to bond (integrate) with the bone after they have been put in. This takes at least 3 months in the lower jaw and 6 months in the upper jaw. Sometimes the implants may be stable enough when they are fitted for the artificial teeth to be attached much sooner than this.
If you are having one, two or three teeth replaced, you may have a temporary denture in the meantime. If you have complete dentures, then you can keep wearing these throughout the healing period once they have been modified after the surgery. A healing cap will usually be placed into the implant site to protect the area during healing.
If I had gum disease when I had my own teeth, will I get it with the teeth attached to the implants?
Yes, if you don’t care for them well enough. If you keep them clean, and do not smoke, then you should not have any problems.
Do I have an implant for each missing tooth?
No, unless you’re only having a single tooth replaced. Normally, five or six implants are used to replace all the teeth in one jaw, as each implant can usually support two teeth. For a few missing teeth, two or three implants may be used.