A dental implant is a small screw that is placed within the bone and it replaces the tooth that is lost. So essentially, it gives you the foundation to build a tooth on top of it.
So here, I have a sterile packaging, where the implant is placed. You undo the packaging and you will see a small screw that is 10mm in length by 4mm in diameter. It is quite small. And this is placed into your bone gently and then it is left for about 3 months to integrate into your bone. Thereafter, you can construct your own tooth on it.
The main advantage of having a dental implant is that you don’t damage your adjacent teeth. Here we have a model. If a tooth is lost, coventionally, in the past, what we would do is drill down the adjacent teeth into stumps. Then the lab would make us a bridge and as you can see, here we have the model of a three teeth bridge. This would then be glued into place. This worked very well. But on average, they last about 10 years.
The advantage of an implant is that you don’t damage the adjacent teeth. You gently place a dental implant into the bone. Then the implant is left for a number of months to heal – approximately 3 months. Thereafter, we can start the construction of the tooth. This is then screwed into the implant. Which is known as an abutment. Then the lab will make you your custom tooth to fit. So essentially, have you not damaged your adjacent teeth and you have gained a tooth just like the one you had lost previously.
That is a good question. I have quite a few patients who ask if it is going to be painful. We have a lot of patients (and it is quite surprising) that don’t have to take any pain-killers, though we do provide them with pain-killers here. Obviously, when you are having a surgical procedure, there will be some discomfort, but it can be controlled with normal pain-killers that you have at home.
The most important for me is to make the procedure as comfortable as possible for my patients.
I have seen a lot of patients over the years as an implant dentist and we have regular patients coming back to have multiple dental implants after having their first experience being quite good!
Over the last 10 years what we have found with dental implants is that the long-term success is based on good oral hygiene. In the past, there wasn’t as much emphasis because the patient thought that it was a lifetime restoration. But now we know that the patient has to clean effectively around their dental implants to maintain a long-term success.
What I recommend my patients to do is to use one of these electrical tooth-brushes. The best one, if you look at the evidence, is to utilise a circular tooth-brush. They are far more effective in cleaning the bacteria around your teeth and your implants.
The advantage of these circular electric tooth-brushes is that you can gently cup your tooth and clean the outer, the inner and the top surface of your tooth. You can address the bacteria where the gum and the tooth meet.
But you also want to clean the space that is between the teeth and the dental implants. For that you should regularly use the “interdental” brushes. It is important that you utlise these interdental brushes on a daily basis. You put them through the space between your dental implants. You will remove the bacteria residing there and you will reduce the likelihood of gum disease or your implants having gum problems in the future.
The success rate of a dental implant is 90%. There are some studies out there that do suggest that the success rate is 95%. The log-term success of a dental implant is approximately 15 years and this is based on good gum health. There is also evidence that suggests that they can last many more years than 15 years!
Because I am a specialist in periodontics – a gum specialist – I give my patients the knowledge to maintain they dental implants for many years to come by giving them the correct oral hygiene instructions.