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Dental implants : A Primer for patients

03 March 2011

Dental implants are specially engineered pieces of titanium that are placed into the bone of the upper or lower jaw to support an overlying structure. That structure can be a crown, a fixed partial denture or bridge, or a fixed or removable denture. Different sized dental implants are placed in different parts of the mouth because each type of tooth has a different function. The action of the small front incisors are to cut food and so smaller dental implants are placed in the front of the mouth. The back molars are chewing teeth so larger dental implants must be used to able to withstand the grinding forces.

Dental implants are considered to be standard or mini implants. The mini implants are less than 3mm wide and can be used to replace the small lower front teeth or 4 to 6 of them used support a denture. Standard implants are used for individual crown such as molars or to support a bridge or fix a denture in place. The number of implants that are required depends on the structure that is going to be loaded onto the dental implants.

When dental implants are placed into the bone, they require time to heal and fuse to the bone. This process is called osseointegration and can take 3-6 months. In many cases, the dental implant is left alone to heal without any load. However, there are cases where a crown can be kept out of the bite, or the teeth splinted together during healing. This means that a patient may be able to leave with a new tooth or denture the same day that the implants are placed. When this is not possible, a denture or Snap-on Smile is used cover the implant site.

The quality and quantity of the available bone determines how quickly the dental implants can be restored. There must be adequate bone height and sufficient bone to surround the dental implant. To determine the amount of bone available, dental radiographs must be taken. These are usually the small intraoral, large OPG and cone beam volumetric tomograph. At Cosmic Smile Dental we have the latest dental x-ray equipment and can take all the necessary scans in the office at the time of the consult.

When the bone is insufficient, it may be possible to place bone augmentation material or use bone from the other parts of the jaw or the hip. The surgery is about an hour to two hours depending on the complexity. Most people feel some discomfort the day of the surgery but some for a few days after. There are a few contraindications to placement such as blood dyscrasias, osteoporosis and ill health but most people are suitable. Even smoking is not considered an absolute contraindication but success rates are lower if the patient does not stop smoking during the healing period.

Around the world and in Sydney dental implants are considered to be the gold standard for replacing missing teeth with many studies showing success rates of around 96% and survival rates of over 20 years. Placing dental implants will help to preserve the remaining bone and prevent movement of the other teeth once restored. Dental implants are cosmetic because they can restore a smile but also functional because the teeth can once again be used to chew.

Dental implants in Sydney may be more expensive initially than alternatives such as tooth borne bridges or dentures, but can last many times longer without requiring replacement. They are stronger than normal teeth and do not decay or wear away easily so they can be great value. The cost is usually split between the surgical and the restorative phases by several months. We do have companies that we use to organise payment plans if required.

Our next Sydney dental Implant Open Day is on Thursday March 31st and will be held in the office in Neutral Bay, Sydney. I will discuss dental implants and requirements for their placement. Topics will include types of implants and their uses, requirements for a successful implant, adjuncts and alternatives to implants. Several sessions will be held during the day and one of our Sydney dental implant patients will be present to answer questions about the treatment they have had and the change that it has made in their lives.

All attendees will receive a brief FREE clinical consult and a FREE OPG to assess bone levels. Food and drink will be provided. Hope to see you there. Call 02 9904 2880  or contact us to reserve your place as bookings are essential.