Since the mid 1960’s dental implants have become the most favourable way to restore gaps in the mouth. Implants can be used to restore a range of missing teeth – everything from a single tooth to a full arch. A dental implant is essentially a titanium screw like structure that is known to be compatible with body tissues, and able to integrate with the bone during the healing period, making it the strongest structure to support a restoration. If you are planned to undergo dental implant treatment, we have outlined the different stages you will encounter, so you know what to expect.
First stage: Comprehensive assessment
A comprehensive assessment will be performed by one of our experienced dentist’s Dr Amin or Dr Shafique. They will assess all teeth and the health of the gums. The health of your gums is imperative to the success of future implants and to avoid teeth and implants failing.
They will explain all the options that are appropriate to you, and if implants are possible, the next stage would be to have CT scan.
Second stage: CT Scan
This is a service not all practices can offer. However, we do have a CT scanner on site, which makes planning your treatment quicker and hassle free. We also receive referrals from other practices for this service.
A CT scan is a 3-dimensional image, that scans your jaw to assess the shape, density and condition of the bone, and is useful to locate important structures in your jaw like nerves and sinuses, that may be close to where the implants could be positioned.
It is important to know when considering an implant, additional bone structure may be needed to support the implant, the scan will provide this information.
Our experienced Implant Surgeon, Dr Johan Styger, will assess the scan to advise and plan your implant options. Then one of our lovely treatment co-ordinators, Jan or Beth will draw up a letter explaining your options, the stages of treatment and the fees involved.
Third stage: Placement of implants
The placement of implants is a surgical procedure that is usually carried out in a sterile environment, using anaesthetic, in the same way as if you were having a filling or tooth extraction. The socket is prepared, and implant inserted. In certain cases, where favourable, the implant can be placed as soon as a tooth is taken out.
At implant placement we offer the PRGF treatment which involves taking a small amount of your blood and using the plasma from it, which rich in growth factors, aids in reducing swelling and discomfort, after the implant surgery.
We also offer intravenous sedation (the administration of a sedative into a vein) as option for patients that are particularly anxious or that have a long implant procedure to undergo. This sedation does not make you go to sleep as the surgeon needs you to be responsive, but it means the treatment can be carried out whilst you are calm and comfortable. This is an option, but most people manage fine with just the local anaesthetic (numbing of the mouth).
Fourth stage: Healing
Once the implant has been placed the process of osseointergration occurs, which in layman’s terms means, the implant fuses with bone and becomes strong, this usually occurs within 3 – 6 months.
The dentist will take an x-ray to check the osseointergration. In most cases another small surgical procedure will be needed to locate the implant under the gum, stiches may also be needed here.
Fifth stage: Restoring
This is when the final crown or bridge can be constructed. It involves the dentist removing the healing abutment or temporary restoration if used, attaching scan flag abutments. The dentist will use the iTero scanner, which is the latest technology, for our laboratory technicians to create, accurate well fitting, crowns and bridges. This scanner also means we can avoid doing impressions, that some people find uncomfortable.
Shade will be recorded, and photos’ taken to discuss the case with you and our laboratory technicians, to work together and get the desired result. We do sometimes require try-in appointments to check how satisfied you are with the appearance before processing. Then the technicians take two weeks to finish the work, ready to be fitted.
Sixth stage: Implant maintenance
Implants have a high success rate and should last approximately 25 years, but the success of the implant is very much down to regular oral hygiene visits and a good daily cleaning regime.
The most common causes of an implant failing, is poor oral hygiene, periodontitis and smoking. If bacteria build up, the gums will become inflamed around the implant and if left untreated, you could suffer with bleeding, infection and then the implant could fail due to a condition called peri-implantitis. Usually, the implant can be replaced but it may need additional bone to restore the area.
Your daily cleaning routine would include cleaning with a toothbrush, ideally electric, twice a day and cleaning in between the teeth with interspace brushes and floss.
It is very important to visit our hygienist Natasha, every 3-6 months, for a pain free, efficient cleaning experience using the Airflow machine. The powders used in the Airflow machine, help gently remove the biofilm on all implant components, without scratching.
Having periodontitis can increase the risk of the implant failing, so being free of this prior to having the implant placed is essential, and for the maintenance of the implant and natural teeth after the placement, it is imperative you see the hygienist regularly for checks and cleaning, and to continue a good cleaning regime at home.