An implant is used to support one or more false teeth. It is a titanium screw used to replace the root of a lost tooth in the jawbone. Most implants have the shape of a cylinder or a screw. The titanium is biocompatible, which means that the body does not repel it, so that the bone can grow directly up to the implant. This process is called osseointegration.
The length and diameter of the implant will be chosen based on the amount of available bone, the shape of the jaw and the crown, bridge or denture that needs to be placed on the implant. Generally, the implants have a cross-section between 3 and 6 mm and the lengths vary approximately between 6 and 16 mm. The dental implant is placed in the bone, after which bone grows and fuses onto it. This period varies from 6 weeks to 6 months. This depends, among other things, on the quality of the jawbone. Your surgeon will tell you how long this period is expected to be in your case. After this period a crown, bridge or denture can be placed on the implant.
The treatment consists of a number of phases. First, checking the options and determining the treatment plan. Then the surgeon will place the implants and put a separate component on the implant above the gums. If necessary, a second procedure will follow, the re-exposure of the implant. In the final phase, the crown, bridge or denture is made. Treatment can usually be performed using local anaesthetic. Sometimes pre-operative medication is given or prescribed. This can be a mouthwash, painkiller or antibiotics.
An incision is made in the gums so that the dental surgeon can reach the location where the implant will go. Next, a drill is used to create a space for the implant. The implant can then be placed, sometimes it is screwed and sometimes drilled. Finally, the wound is sutured. You will usually receive a prescription for a special mouthwash and pain relief. Sometimes the implants are immediately visible in the mouth. In some cases, the implants are completely covered by gums. In that case a second procedure is needed to make the implants visible. This depends on the type of implant that is used and the location of the implant.
If your own teeth, including the root, are no longer present, the use of implants can be considered. A few examples are: after an accident, after inflammation, with partially or completely loose dentures. Your dentist will inform you if implants fit your particular condition. To know if there is sufficient height and width of the bone to be able to place an implant, the surgeon will perform various test, including taking an X-ray. If insufficient bone is present, implants cannot simply be placed. In this case an extra treatment is needed grafting bone to the area.
Implants, especially in the lower jaw have a success rate of 95% in case of healthy and sufficient bone. If insufficient bone is present and grafting bone is needed, the success rate is lower. It has also been found that the success rate for smokers is clearly less.