The Modern Tooth Replacement Option - Dental Implants At AR Smiles Eltham

Providing more stability and strength than dentures, dental implants are now often the preferred tooth replacement choice

There have been many advances in dentistry over time. Some of these, such as the use of anaesthetics would have been a real game changer. More recently, cosmetic dentistry has been at the front of these developments, with new treatments such as teeth whitening and veneers coming on board. Perhaps the biggest advance though has been in the use of dental implants to replace missing teeth, gradually taking over from dentures. Let's take a closer look at this innovative method in today’s blog.

Although we may think of implants as being ‘new’, they have actually been around for over fifty years but it is probably in the last decade or so that they have become much more widely used and better understood by our patients.

Dental implants or dentures?

Some of our Eltham patients may be faced with the prospect of losing a tooth and will wish to consider their options when it comes to replacing it. Traditionally, dentures would have been the natural choice and they have certainly improved in appearance over the years. They are not without drawbacks though. Dentures can limit the foods that you eat as many wearers shy away from more difficult and chewier foods as they may cause the dentures to move around when eating. Small changes in the shape of the face caused by bone reabsorption following tooth loss can also cause dentures to move around when you are speaking.  Dental implants, on the other hand, replace not only the crown section of the tooth, but also the root, providing a very high level of stability and the ability to eat whatever you want.

How are dental implants placed?

Placing dental implants does require minor surgery and a procedure that can take longer than many others. Although the treatment may sound a little ‘scary’ to some people, our AR Smiles dentists have years of experience and the reality is that you should feel no more discomfort than you would with some other invasive treatments.

Prior to the procedure, you will need to have a consultation with the dentist who will explain everything to you. They will also need to take x-rays and scans to determine if there is sufficient bone into which an implant can be placed. This may not always be the case where a tooth has been missing for a while or in older patients or those with periodontitis. Where sufficient bone is present, the procedure can go ahead. Where there is not, a prior treatment such as a bone graft or sinus lift may be necessary. You will also be given a thorough oral health check to make sure problems such as gum disease are not present before the procedure starts.

When you arrive for the procedure, you will be given a local anaesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable. A small incision will then be made into the gum to expose the jawbone. Using precision instruments, a small hole will then be drilled into the bone and the implant placed into this. Once this has been placed, a period of around three months will be required to allow the implant and the bone to fuse together, providing a very secure artificial tooth root. This process is known as ‘osseointegration’. Once this has completed, the crown can be fitted.

Fitting the crown is done via an abutment which allows the implant and the crown to be attached securely together. Once the crown has been fitted, the treatment is complete and you will now have a new artificial tooth that both looks and feels like a natural tooth. If you have been without a tooth in that area for some time, we advise that you avoid more challenging foods for a little while so that you can become accustomed to now having a tooth in that area.

Aftercare

With your new dental implant you will be able to eat and speak without having to worry about its strength or stability. In fact, you can more or less use and treat it as you would a natural tooth. It is still important though to take care of it, as, even though it is made of an artificial material, and therefore can’t decay, problems can still occur which could even threaten its survival.

The good news is that aftercare is very straightforward, but essential. The biggest challenges to the new implant are periodontitis and peri-implantitis, both of which can affect the bone into which the implant is placed. Should this become infected and weakened, the implant can become loose and may even fall out in some cases. In order to avoid this happening, you only need to do what we should all be doing anyway.

1 - Brush your teeth well, making sure to brush around the gumline to remove any bacteria and food debris.

2 - Use dental floss as this will enable you to reach places that a toothbrush can’t

3 - See our Eltham dental hygienist every six months for a professional clean, known also as a scale and polish.

If you do just these three things, you should have trouble free implants for many years, with most implants lasting for twenty years and often many more if they are looked after correctly.

Dental implants can be used to replace individual teeth, multiple consecutive teeth and even a full arch where necessary. If you would like to find out more about how dental implants can benefit you, we will be happy to help. To contact us, please call AR Smiles on 020 8856 7759.

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Site last updated December 2023
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