What are Dental Implants?
All modern dental implants are made from titanium. Titanium implants have been developed from research carried out by Professor P I Branemark of Sweden whose pioneering work began in the 1960’s becoming commercially available in the early 1980’s. There are now many different makes if dental implants but all are essentially the same design. Titanium implants are used to replace teeth but now also in other ways such as replacements of missing or damaged limbs and various facial structures.
Titanium is used because it osseointegrates with bone; the cells actually attaching to and grow in from the implant surface. Sometimes, this does not happen and the implant is deemed to have failed. The failure rate is low (overall 5%) but certain circumstances contribute to a higher rate which includes:
- Smoking – the heavier the habit the higher the failure rate
- Systemic disorders such as diabetes
- Radiotherapy or chemotherapy
- Poor bone quality or quantity
- Any accidental early loading of implant e.g. a denture worn during the healing phase pressing on the implant.
- A compromised immune system from whatever cause.
Alan M from Southwick
"If anyone ever asks me about having dental implants, I would certainly recommend Barry Tibbott. At no time have I felt that I was receiving anything but a first class service. Barry’s skill and years of experience of dental implants filled me with confidence. The end result is truly pleasing and I am looking forward to sampling a variety of foods that I have avoided in the past."
Why are dental implants needed?
Once teeth are lost, the bone in which they are embedded gradually disappears because it is no longer required to support the teeth. The teeth and lost bone are usually replaced by removable dentures or fixed bridges to restore appearance, speech and mastication. As with all man made substitutes for nature’s living tissues, there are drawbacks to artificial appliances. Dentures reduce masticatory efficiency and can suffer from poor retention. On the other hand, bridges involve cutting away healthy teeth in order to provide support.
An alternative method of tooth replacement is to insert dental implants into the jawbone to support the false tooth or teeth. Such implants may become firmly attached or integrated with the bone and act in a similar manner to a tooth root. If a dental implant is placed immediately or soon after a tooth is extracted, jawbone is preserved and its further loss prevented. For this reason it is best not to delay the decision to place implants, as bone will be lost with time which can make the placement of implants more difficult. However, even after considerable bone loss has occurred, it may still be possible to place an implant although additional bone grafting techniques may be required.
What are the alternatives?
For people who have no remaining teeth:
- Complete dentures
- Implant which secure dentures in place
- Implants which support a complete fixed bridge
For patients who have some teeth:
- Partial dentures supported by teeth
- Partial dentures supported by implants
- Fixed bridges supported by teeth
- Fixed bridges supported by implants
The condition of the jaws will be assessed for suitability and the treatment planned using X-ray films, photographs and models of the teeth. It may be necessary to take a Jaw Scan (CT) type X-ray to check the amount and position of the available bone. The final decision whether or not to proceed with implant placement will be made at the time of surgery and will be determined by the quality and quantity of the jawbone.
After care and maintenance of your implants
It is important to remember that implants are not "Fit and forget” and that they need the same amount of care and attention as natural teeth. Unlike teeth they cannot decay, however they can suffer from gum disease. Your implants have to be regularly serviced and maintained just like a quality car needs regular servicing. Provided they are properly looked after and maintained they will give many years of trouble free function.