Are you wondering if dental implants are the right decision? If you are missing teeth and want a complete, natural-looking smile that’s also hassle-free then they could be perfect for you! Compared to other tooth-replacement options like bridges or dentures, dental implants look and function most closely to real teeth. They’re secured in place, make eating and speaking feel natural again, and can even be cleaned the same way as your other teeth. At Westport Dental Centre, we can help you get back confidence in your smile thanks to dental implants!
How do dental implants work?
You can think of a dental implant like a replacement tooth root. The implant is a small, cylindrical post. It is surgically placed into the jawbone where your tooth is missing. The procedure is gently and carefully carried out by our in-house specialist oral surgeon, Dr Niamh Boyle BDS. Over time, the implant will actually fuse with your bone; this process is called osseointegration. We let the implant heal over the course of a few weeks or sometimes months so that it can become a strong foundation.
Once the implant has properly fused with your bone, a connector piece called an abutment will be placed on top. Then, a restoration will be attached to that, giving the dental implant its final appearance as a natural tooth. This restoration is oftentimes a dental crown, but it can also be a bridge or dentures if multiple teeth are missing.
How much do dental implants cost?
There are quite a few factors that affect how much a dental implant costs. To come up with an estimate, we’d need to see how many teeth you are replacing and where these teeth are positioned.
Single Tooth Replacement
If one or more of your teeth are missing, there are a number of ways to replace them. An alternative to bridges, partial, or complete dentures may be implants. Implants are used to replace roots of missing teeth, which helps to stop or prevent jaw bone loss, and support artificial replacement teeth. They are comfortable and look like natural teeth. People who have lost teeth might feel too self-conscious to smile or talk. Additionally, biting irregularities caused by tooth loss can have a negative effect on TMJ condition and eating habits, leading to other health problems, like malnutrition.
By replacing missing teeth roots, dental implants provide people with the strength and stability required to eat all the foods they love, without struggling to chew. Additionally, dental implants stimulate and maintain jaw bone, preventing bone loss and helping to maintain facial features.
To determine if implants are right for you, a consultation with our specialist oral surgeon is needed. During this appointment, he will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums and evaluate bone density and quantity. This will always include panoramic x-ray and may include computer tomography scans (CT scans) to ensure there is sufficient bone structure for placing the implant(s), and to determine exactly where the implant should be placed.
Based on the condition of your oral tissues, oral hygiene and personal habits, and commitment to follow aftercare instructions, the oral surgeon will advise you of the most appropriate dental implant treatment plan. Some patients with insufficient bone or gum tissue require bone or soft tissue grafts and/or the use of small diameter implants (also called mini implants). Depending on your situation, your dentist or oral surgeon will advise you of how long the entire treatment process will take, how many appointments will be necessary and what you can expect after each procedure. During the consultation, options for local anaesthesia (to numb the affected and surrounding areas) and sedation dentistry, if necessary, also will be discussed. If you are a suitable candidate for dental implants, they are usually done in the following way:
- During the first stage of surgery, your oral surgeon will put a dental implant into your jawbone beneath the gum tissue. The gum tissue is then stitched back into place. As the tissue heals, the implant will bond with the bone and attach to the gum –this process is called an osseointegration. It can take several months to heal.
- During the second stage of surgery and once the tissue is healed, your dentist will attach an abutment to the implant. An abutment is a post that connects the replacement tooth to the implant. In some cases, the first and second stage of implant surgery may be done in one single stage.
- An artificial replacement tooth is made by dental technician and your dentist attaches it to the abutment. It may take several appointments to properly fit the replacement tooth to the abutment.
- When replacing several teeth or all of your teeth, a fixed bridge is anchored to your dental implants. A bridge is a dental restoration that replaces one or more missing teeth by spanning an area that has no teeth. The bridge is held firmly in place by dental implants on each side of the missing tooth or teeth.
Today’s dental implant restorations are virtually indistinguishable from other teeth. This appearance is aided in part by the structural and functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone. Because dental implants are placed in the jawbone, artificial replacement teeth attached to implants look and act much like natural teeth. And like natural teeth, implants need to be kept clean using a toothbrush and floss. Your dentist or hygienist will show you the proper cleaning procedure for implants. Regular dental check-ups are important so your dentist can make sure that your bite is right and that your implants are not loose.