Q: What is a Dental Implant?
A: An implant is a man-made fixed replacement for natural teeth. There are several categories of dental implants, which will be selected by the doctor depending on specific needs and dental conditions of patients. You would require an x-ray to evaluate the amount of bone remaining, models of your mouth to determine space available and a thorough examination to decide which type of implant can help you the most.
Q: How long does it take?
A: Dental implant treatment can take anywhere between three to six months or longer, depending on the condition of the patient. We can, however, provide patients with fixed or removable temporary teeth during this time.
Q: Who is a candidate for implants?
A: Anyone who has one or more of their teeth missing may be a candidate for implants. If one or a few of the teeth are missing, implants with a crown or bridge can replace those teeth and function as normal teeth without losing more bone and being subject to decay. If all or most of your teeth are missing, then fixed implant-supported bridges in both upper and lower jaws can be fabricated or an implant supported removable denture can be planned. A consultation with a dentist who is knowledgeable about these procedures can help determine your individual needs.
Q: What factors contribute to the long-term success of dental implants?
A: Mainly success will depend on the quality and quantity of bone. The better the bone and the more it is available, the greater the chance of long-term success. Secondly, the experience and ability of the Implantologist will be a factor. And finally, the quality of the restoration placed on top of the implant will play a big role in the long-term success. If the designs of the implant crowns or overdentures are poorly constructed, and the biting forces are not balanced, even the best-placed dental implant will have a compromised survival rate.
Q: How is the treatment done?
A: The treatment consists of two stages.
The surgical phase consists of the placement of the implants into the jawbone. It is performed under local anesthesia and is painless. The duration of the intervention is from half an hour to two hours, depending on the number of implants and area of their placement in the mouth. The area will remain covered for three to six months.
The prosthetic phase involves fabrication of artificial fixture over the implants and can take about one week to one month depending upon the type of fixture.
Q: Is there a chance of rejection?
A: The body does not reject a dental implant. This does not mean that an implant cannot fail. It would be due to other factors, such as misalignment, an improper force on the implant or other conditions or existing diseases of the patient. Dental implants are made of titanium that is bio-compatible and actually integrates with the surrounding bone and becomes part of the body.
Q: What are the advantages and benefits of a dental implant treatment?
A: Dental implants perform functions similar to a natural tooth. Since they are anchored to the bone, they are the highest form of tooth replacement, be it aesthetics or function. Dental implants supported dentures do not slip out of place while eating or speaking in comparison to tissue supported conventional dentures.
Dental implants in comparison to a bridge or a denture, preserve the surrounding bone which is another benefit over these treatments. Since the natural teeth are not used for support, the dental implants do not damage the natural teeth as is the case with a bridge.
Benefits of dental implants include:
- Better chewing efficiency as compared to removable dentures.
- Natural teeth are not harmed (in comparison to a Bridge).
- Implant once accepted by the bone, is a life time investment.
- Easier to clean, as compared to removable dentures.
Q: What are the disadvantages of dental implant treatment? Are there any risks/side effects involved?
A: Dental implants being a better treatment modality are slightly expensive as compared to removable dentures. However, the advantages far outnumber the disadvantages and should always be the first line of treatment.
Risks with dental implants are rare, but if they do occur, they are usually minor and easily treatable. These include:
- Infection at the implant site
- Injury or damage to surrounding teeth, blood vessels, or jaw.
- Implant rejection
- Nerve injury
- Maxillary sinus infection if not placed properly.
When treated by an experienced Implantologist, with proper planning, these risks can be minimized to a minimal.