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June 08 2011

A Brief Guide to Dental Implant Treatment

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People who have lost teeth report feeling physical and psychological effects of their missing teeth. Not only does it impact on ability to eat and speak properly, but it also affects confidence. People who are missing teeth often find that they look older than they otherwise might. Dental implant treatment is a more permanent alternative to removable dentures.

Whether you are missing one teeth, two teeth or all of your teeth, dental implant treatment is a safe and enduring solution. Even though it can be costly, dental implant treatment provides long lasting and safe replacement teeth. Dentures offer no protection from jaw shrinkage but implants do. Because the jaw naturally holds in the teeth, it is prone to shrinking back when teeth are lost and it is no longer required to serve this purpose. This is the reason why many wearers of removable dentures find that over time the shape of their jaw changes, resulting in uncomfortable and ill-fitting dentures.

Dental implant treatment includes the insertion of screw shaped titanium implants into the jaw bone. Titanium has a unique quality of being able to fuse directly into bone, so once the implant is placed, the bone begins to grow around and fuse onto the implant. After three to six months, during which temporary crowns can be worn to disguise the missing teeth, the implants are ready to act as an anchor for the replacement teeth. In cases where patients are having teeth removed, dentists may recommend that implants are fitted at the same time to limit the potential for jaw bone shrinkage.

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After a suitable period of healing, the dentist will place the permanent replacement tooth or teeth onto the implants. Modern dental implant systems allow this to be an easy step, but in the past it was necessary to place an extension on top of the original implant to bring it above the gum’s surface.

Throughout dental implant treatment, a local anaesthetic is used. This prevents the patient from feeling pain during the procedure whilst negating the risks which are associated with the use of general anaesthetics.

After the treatment the implants will probably last a lifetime, provided good care is taken of them. Most of the care is the same as would be expected for natural teeth: brushing and flossing as well as regular visits to the dentist for check ups.