Dental implants are predictable alternatives for the replacement of missing teeth. The technology behind this treatment modality has evolved enormously over the past decades and current treatment protocols follow years of research. A dental implant is essentially a fixed titanium screw that integrates with the bone in your jaw. This process is called osseo-integration. Dental implants are placed into carefully drilled sockets at pre-planned precise locations. The aim during placement is to achieve close contact with the surrounding bone. This creates initial stability, which over time is steadily enhanced by further growth of bone into the microscopic roughness of the implant surface. In order to support the replacement teeth, dental implants normally have some form of internal screw thread or post space that allows a variety of components to be fitted. These components provide the foundation for long-term supported crowns, bridges or dentures.
WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF IMPLANT PLACEMENT?
There are four stages to implant treatment: Planning, Surgery, Restoration and Maintenance. You may be involved with a couple of different clinicians as often the surgeon and restorative dental practitioner will differ as each stage is where their expertise lies.
Before implants can be placed, radiographs (x-rays) and impressions of your mouth will be needed. These allow your surgeon to plan your case. The surgeon will assess many factors including your bone volume and proximity to important anatomical structures such as nerves or your sinus. The surgeon will also run through your medical history to ensure it is safe to proceed with surgery.
The next stage of your treatment is to insert the implants. The bone is accessed by lifting a small flap of your gum. The bone is progressively drilled into to create a space for the implant and then the implant is placed. Either a cover screw or a healing abutment is placed. These are smaller internal screws that are placed to allow for healing of the bone while the implant osseo-integrates. The gum is placed back with some dissolvable sutures (stitches). Implants are not normally loaded (used for chewing) straight away as this increases the risk of failure. Implants buried under the gum will require a second small surgical procedure to expose them before they can be restored.
This will be carried out by your dentist, or a Prosthodontist. Further impressions will be taken, and the prostheses made in a dental laboratory before it is inserted.
Implants are a predictable treatment modality with success rates for single teeth being >95%. As with all dentistry, it is the quality of your home care that will greatly influence the long-term survivability of your implants. It is recommended that you maintain regular maintenance reviews with your dental practitioner to ensure their health and provide professional cleaning.
Oral Surgeons are experts in surgery within the mouth and thus they are responsible for the pre-operative assessment and surgical phases of treatment.