Dental Implants

dental implants

Dental implants have become the treatment of choice for replacing missing teeth.

A dental implant is a metal rod or screw that acts like the root of a tooth.  It sits inside the jaw bone.  To this is attached an abutment which sticks out of the gum. It is attached with a screw. Sometimes the abutment and implant can be one piece. The abutment is then used to support a false tooth, crown or dental bridge.  Implants are usually made of titanium and look very much like a screw.

 Are dental implants are suitable for you?

Ideally you should have good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and you should have healthy gum tissues that are free of gum disease. It would be better if you are a non smoker as this reduces the success rate of treatment. Medical conditions such as osteoporosis and diabetes can also affect the success of treatment.

What are the alternatives to dental implants?dental implants

Alternatives to dental implants include:

•Removable dentures (false teeth) – plastic or metal frameworks that carry false teeth

•A bridge – false teeth that are fixed onto adjacent natural teeth

What happens during dental implant surgery?

Once the local anaesthetic has taken effect, a cut is made in your gum and then a small hole is made in your jawbone. The implant fits into this hole. If you need to have teeth removed before dental implant surgery, it may be possible to remove a tooth and put an implant straight into your tooth socket. However, usually the implant is placed after 7-8 weeks.

Implants can be done in one or two stages.

In one-stage implant treatment, the implant and the abutment that pokes through your gum will be fitted at the same time.

In two-stage implant treatment, the implant rod will be buried under your gum while your bone heals (you won’t see it in your mouth). Then, a few months later, you will have another small operation to attach the abutment.

It is possible to attach artificial teeth on the same day you have the implant. Usually, however, you will need to wait between three and six months. This allow your bone to form a bond with the implant and make it secure. During this healing period a temporary bridge or partial dentures can be fitted so you can’t see the spaces between your remaining teeth. If you have complete dentures, they can be adjusted so that you can wear them throughout this time.

After your mouth has healed, you will have a second, smaller surgical procedure to uncover the gum over the top of the implant if necessary. Your artificial teeth will then be fitted onto the implant. The teeth may be fixed permanently or attached in a way that allows you to remove them for cleaning.

What are the advantages of a single-tooth implant over a bridge?

A dental implant provides several advantages over other tooth replacement options.

A bridge involves using the adjacent teeth as supports. This means thee teeth have to be ground down. This puts these teeth at greater risk of needing root canal treatment later on. A bridge can also leak and decay around the joint. This may lead to root treatment or even loss of the complete tooth and bridge.

Because a dental implant will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved. With a bridge, some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth begins to shrink away over time.

What are the advantages of implant-supported dentures over conventional dentures?

The biggest advantage is that your implant denture will be more secure than your traditional denture. This means you will be able to eat better without having to worry about your denture moving around. You will also feel happier knowing that your denture I not going to dislodge whilst talking or laughing giving you the confidence to live your life to the full.

What if I do not have enough bone?

A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants due to insufficient bone quantity and quality and the close proximity to the sinus.

Sinus lift surgery can help correct this problem by raising the sinus floor and developing bone for the placement of dental implants. Several techniques can be used to raise the sinus and allow for new bone to form.

Undergoing sinus lift surgery has been shown to greatly increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come. Many patients experience minimal discomfort during this procedure.

Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge. Ridge modification has been shown to greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come.

What to expect afterwards

You may need to rest until the effects of the anaesthetic have passed. After a local anaesthetic it may take several hours before the feeling comes back into your mouth. You may need pain relief to help with any discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. You will usually be able to go home when you feel ready.

It’s important to only eat soft foods for the rest of the day after having dental implant surgery. Try to keep your mouth clean by brushing but don’t directly brush the implant site. We may advise you to use a chlorhexidine mouthwash every day during the first week after your operation.

How to look after your implant

Once the implant treatment is completed a maintenance program will be devised for you to keep your implant and remaining teeth healthy. It is essential you keep up with this program to reduce the risk of failure.

What are the risks?

As with every procedure, there are some risks associated with dental implant surgery. We have not included the chance of these happening as they are specific to you and differ for every person. Ask your dentist to explain how these risks apply to you.


Side-effects are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects you may get after having the procedure.

You may have some swelling and discomfort around the implant area. If so, you can take an over-the-counter painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.


Complications are when problems occur during or after the procedure.

The possible complications of any operation include an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, or excessive bleeding.

Your lower jaw contains nerves that supply the feeling to your tongue, chin, lower lip and lower teeth. If the nerves are damaged by the implant, you may feel temporary or even permanent tingling or numbness. X-rays and CT scans help your dentist to see the position of the nerves in your jawbone to minimise this risk.

Occasionally, the jawbone doesn’t fuse with the implant properly and the implant can become loose and fail. This isn’t usually painful, but the implant won’t be able to support false teeth. Your dentist will ask you to attend regular check-ups to make sure your implants are still secure