Dental Implants: The Closest Thing to Natural Teeth
Think of your natural tooth in two parts:
- The part above the gum is called the crown. This is the white portion that you see in the mouth.
- The part below the gum is the root. This is the portion that keeps your tooth firm because it is held by your jaw bone.
To replace a single lost tooth, an implant, or a titanium screw, is inserted into the bone. In the typical case, the implant would be covered by gum and left for 3-6 months. This allows the bone to heal around the implant and hold it firmly. This process of healing is called osseo-integration.
After the bone has healed well around the implant, a small extension, or abutment (post), would be placed over the implant. A new customized porcelain crown would be constructed and cemented over the abutment. You will then have a brand new tooth!
In some cases, a temporary plastic crown can be placed over a newly placed implant. Whether this can be done depends on factors like whether there is a critical need for an immediate aesthetic replacement and whether biting forces will be placed on the tooth.
What are the limitations to implant placement?
- There must be bone of sufficient height and width to support the implant. In cases of inadequate bone, a graft
may be required to give stability to the implant.
- The patient must be in good health, for example, conditions like diabetes must bze well-controlled.
- Any infection, like a gum abscess, must be resolved first, before the implant is placed.
- Smokers will find that healing around the implant may be poor.
- Those who brux their teeth (i.e. grind their teeth excessively) may find that the longevity of their implants will be undermined. To help manage this, a soft, plastic guard may need to be worn to protect the implant as well as the natural teeth.
What are the stages and fees involved in getting Implants?
The initial consultation
Firstly, your condition must be examined to assess whether you are suitable for implants. For example, do you have any medical conditions that may affect the success of an implant? Then your mouth has to be checked for bone shape, size and quality. In some cases, bone grafts may be needed if the proposed site of the implant has very thin bone. Only after a thorough examination that includes X-rays, can we plan how your new artificial teeth will be constructed.
If 3-D imaging is required to assess proximity to certain anatomical structures,
The Implant Insertion
In the case of single tooth replacement, a crown would be placed on top of the implant after the implant has completely healed in the mouth. In cases where multiple teeth are being replaced, the design may involve a bridge supported on implants, a denture fixed to implants or a removable denture retained by a few implants. The fee for such designs will be discussed on an individual basis as much depends on the number of teeth to be replaced and the type of materials used.