What is an implant?
A dental implant is the closest thing to replace missing teeth. This means:
- It is natural-looking.
- You can speak normally with them.
- You can eat and chew any food you like without worrying about your new artificial tooth moving.
Is there an alternative to implants for replacing missing teeth? Yes, implants are not the only option to replace missing teeth – there are several other solutions including:
- Dentures – false teeth attached to a removable metal or plastic plate or
- Bridges – false teeth that are fixed onto the existing teeth either side of your missing tooth or teeth
What are the implants made of?
Majority of dental implants are made of titanium, however with advances in dental technology, Zirconia implants are available too.
Am I suitable for an implant?
Dental implants are suitable for most adults who are in good general health and have healthy gums. They aren’t suitable for children and young people under 18 because the underlying bones are still growing.
Implants are not suitable for people who smoke, people who have uncontrolled diabetes, people with active gum disease and people who have bone disease like osteoporosis or have received radiotherapy in the head and neck region.
How is an implant done?
Your dentist places them into your jawbone like an artificial root. They can support crowns or dentures, in a similar way that roots support natural teeth. Getting dental implants requires several appointments, including a consultation, an appointment to place the implant, one to review healing and removing sutures and another to attach the new teeth.
Is dental implant surgery painful?
No, the surgery is done after the patient has been numbed with local anaesthesia, so you will feel no pain during the procedure. You may feel pressure at times, but it should not cause you discomfort.
Will I have pain after the procedure?
Yes, you will experience some pain and discomfort immediately after the surgery when the numbness wears off. In most cases, the discomfort will peak within about 3-5 days after your treatment, and then begin to subside relatively quickly. By the end of your first-week post-surgery, you should be feeling little, if any, discomfort and pain.
What about other symptoms?
Other symptoms like swelling, bruising and inflammation are common after the surgery, however they subside as the healing progressed. Depending on how quickly you’re healing, your mouth will begin to feel normal again about 1-2 weeks after your implant placement surgery. At this time, you should feel no more pain, and you can eat your normal diet.
What if I feel nervous about the procedure?
For patients who feel apprehensive about the dental procedure, oral sedation is available. We can prescribe you a mild anxiolytic medicine to take 1 hour before your procedure to make you feel calm and comfortable.
What food can I eat after having implants?
When you have dental implants, you can eat, chew, and talk just as you would with your natural teeth. Even eating foods like apples or corn on the cob will not dislodge or shift your new teeth. With dentures, you have to be careful how you eat, taking precautions such as balancing the food in your mouth to prevent more pressure on one side than on the other. With implants, this is not an issue.
How do I look after the implants?
- Brush your teeth and implant teeth twice a day for a minimum of two minutes, ideally using an electric toothbrush.
- Use super floss or satin tape daily, to clean in-between the implant tooth and your natural teeth. It is important to get the floss or tape below the level of the gum so you can clean the neck of the implant. Or you can use an interdental brush or a WaterPik.
- You should see a hygienist at least every six months for a 30 minute appointment. Depending on how well you can manage your home regime, it may be recommended that you visit the hygienist every three months instead. The hygienist will be able to clean areas you may not be able to get to, and will ensure that plaque is not left around your implant tooth/collar. They will also irrigate an antibacterial solution around the area where your gum joins your implant tooth so it stays healthy and prevents the loss of bone.
- An annual implant assessment with your implant dentist is vital. At this appointment, the dentist will review your cleaning regime, check the health of your implant, and also take an x-ray to ensure the implant is still well connected to the tooth and there has been no bone loss.
What are signs of implant failure?
Keep an eye on your implant and look out for any changes in your mouth, such as:
- Bleeding around the gum where the implant site is
- Redness and swelling of the gum surrounding the tooth
- Pus formation
- Movement of your dental implant.
Most of these problems only occur if inadequate care is taken. If you do notice any of these warning signs then you should contact your implant dentist as soon as possible to reduce the risk of any further problems.
Dental implants are a fixed permanent solution but occasionally your implant crown may debond and fall off. If this happens don’t worry, this can be normal and doesn’t mean your implant has failed. A temporary cement is used when fixing an implant so your dentist can get access to the implant with ease if they need to without destroying your new tooth.
Implantologist Victor Gehani
BDS. MFDS RCS (Eng). MFGDP(UK). DPDS (Bristol). PG Cert (Med and Den Ed). FHEA. FICOI. MSc Implant Dentistry (Warwick). FIADFE. PG Cert Rest Dent (UCL)- GDC registration number: 81565
Victor Gehani qualified in 2000 and after spending a year at the Eastman Dental Institute, has worked in a General Dental Practice in the UK. He has gained postgraduate qualifications with the Faculty of Dental Surgery, Royal College of Surgeons of England (2003), Faculty of General Practice UK (2004) and from Bristol University (Postgraduate Dental Studies 2007).
In 2007 the Pierre Fauchard Academy bestowed an honorary fellowship upon him for his contribution towards teaching and education in Dentistry. Victor regularly attends postgraduate courses to update and enhance his knowledge and skills in Dentistry and also lectures and examines for postgraduare dental courses and examinations. Victor has completed a teaching qualification and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK.
He regularly teaches and examines other dentists. With several years of experience in implant dentistry, Victor has completed and MSc in implantology from the University of Warwick (UK) and has been awarded a Fellowships from the International Congress in Oral Implantology (ICOI) and International Academy of Dento-facial Esthetics (IADFE). He has also completed a Post graduate certificate course in Restorative Dental Practice from the Eastman Dental Institute.
He has lectured on placing and restoring implants for BioHorizons and is involved in mentoring dentists undertaking further implant training.