What is a Tooth Implant?
A tooth or dental implant provides a long-term solution to replacing teeth that have become damaged or subject to decay over time. Tooth implants are artificial teeth that are placed into your jawbone to enable you to chew and eat normally.
They are also able to support tooth crowns and dentures, acting in a similar way to your natural roots. Dental implants are also ideal for restoring confidence due to damaged or missing teeth.
The implant itself uses what’s known as an abutment (more on this later) that is fixed into your jawbone. The abutment essentially acts as the root of your tooth, fixing your implant in place and fusing with your gum and jawbone. The abutment is then capped with an artificial tooth or crown to give the look of a natural tooth.
Benefits of Implants and Alternatives
The two biggest benefits of tooth replacements is restored confidence and they enable you to chew and eat in comfort. Tooth implants are not the only way to replace missing teeth, you may find that a crown or partial denture is more appropriate, especially if part of the tooth (or teeth) can be salvaged.
Tooth implants are also a great alternative treatment option to dentures. This is because dental implants have the potential to last a lifetime and if they are removable, they will not cause as much discomfort as dentures – as your mouth changes over time, dentures will not be able to adapt. Removable implants can be redesigned to fit the shape of your mouth.
If you’re unsure over whether you require a dental implant, you can discuss your options with your dentist in your initial checkup or consultation.
Your Tooth Implant Procedure
Below, we will go into detail about what patients can expect during a routine journey through a dental implant procedure.
1. Initial Evaluation
Your tooth implant process begins with an initial evaluation to understand the extent of treatment required. This will likely include X-rays to assess the condition of your teeth and a model of your teeth to allow your dentist to create an implant that matches your natural teeth.
Your jawbone will then be assessed to ensure it’s safe to replace your current teeth with your new implants. This may take longer depending on the condition of your jawbone and how many implants you require. In more complex cases, you may be referred to a maxillofacial surgeon or a periodontist.
This will also include highlighting any medical conditions that may jeopardise the treatment process. For example, if you suffer from, or are on medication for a heart or lung condition, you must inform your dentist before treatment begins. This is to ensure your dentist is able to prescribe the right antibiotics to prevent infection.
Your dentist and their team will then outline the procedure process and encourage you to ask any questions before they begin. It’s also important that you arrange to be picked after the procedure, as you will not be able to drive due to the combined effects of the anaesthetic and the treatment itself.
2. Your Tooth Implant Procedure Explained
Tooth implant procedures are often performed in stages and you will require additional visits to ensure your jawbone is healing well before further work is carried out. Typically, the procedure begins by removing the damaged tooth, followed by an assessment of your jawbone to ensure it’s safe to operate on (this may include minor bone grafting). Once your jawbone has healed, your new implant is inserted into your gum.
The jaw will then need time to heal before the abutment is inserted (this is the screw that is placed into your implant). Once this has been inserted, the implant can be safely placed into your gum line.
This is not a fast process and you can expect several visits to your dentist over a few months to ensure a safe and full recovery is made.
3. Understanding Dental Implant Surgery and Bone Grafting
In some cases, your jawbone may not be strong enough to withstand your new implant. Your jaw exerts a lot of pressure and force when chewing, and with the addition of a new implant, it needs to be strong enough to ensure the implant stays in place and can perform routine eating.
If your dentist discovers your jawbone is too weak, they may add additional bone to ensure the implant sight is strong enough to support the new implant. This is known as bone grafting and involves transferring a small bit of bone (usually from a part of your jaw that is not being operated on) to the base of the jaw. The bone graft can come from another part of your body but this is up to the discretion of your dentist.
Depending on the condition of your jawbone, you will either have to wait for your bone to heal first or if the new bone tissue can be added at the same time as your implant. After your implant has been placed and the healing process begins, your dentist will fit a temporary denture to maintain the appearance of a full tooth. This is a removable implant and it’s essential you clean it regularly.
During your healing process, your bone will begin adapting to the implant, eventually forming it into the natural gum line. This is a slow and steady process and may take up to nine months for a full recovery. This process is known as osseointegration.
4. Placing the Abutment
Placing the abutment occurs after your jaw has healed from the bone grafting. The abutment is the screw that is inserted into your new tooth implant and helps secure it to your jawbone. This part of the procedure is relatively quick, and involves exposing your new implant (through opening the surrounding gum area and attaching the abutment. Your gum tissue is then closed back around the abutment.
The abutment process is relatively quick and you will likely be placed under a local anesthetic and you can expect to recover in approximately two weeks.
5. Choosing Your New Artificial Teeth
Upon your return to your dentist, your gums should have healed from the abutment placement and you will be ready to have final impressions taken. These impressions will help to create new artificial teeth or crowns to complete your tooth implant. You will be presented with two options; a removable implant or a fixed prosthesis.
Electing the removable implant is preferred by some patients as this makes the implant easy to clean and remove when necessary. It’s also a more cost-effective option for many patients. Fixed implants, as their name suggests, are securely fitted to your abutment and are not removable. If you require multiple teeth removed and replaced with fixed tooth crowns, this is perfectly acceptable, but it will be very costly,
6. After Surgery
You can expect minor discomfort after your procedure and potentially after each step of the surgery. This is completely normal and pain can be alleviated through over the counter medication and painkillers.
Below are some of the expected side effects of undergoing a tooth implant procedure:
- Swelling of the face and gums
- Bruising of the jaw
- Discomfort surrounding the operated area
- Minor bleeding (this will pass over time)
Although these side effects are expected, if they persist or get worse over several days, be sure to get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible.
Aftercare After Your Procedure
Following a strict aftercare routine is essential for you to experience the full results of your implant procedure. Eating soft foods is absolutely essential during the early stages of your recovery period. You may also apply ice packs to help the areas that have swelled after surgery.
Understanding Complications and What to Do if They Occur
Tooth implant procedures are performed every day by thousands of dentists in the UK, however there are instances where comp[lications may occur.
Below are some of the major factors to address during your recovery treatment plan.
- Avoid using tobacco products – at all costs, smoking severely damages your general health and can severely impede your healing process and even cause infections.
- Ensure you carry on brushing and flossing twice a day (use a soft-bristled toothbrush).
- Visit your dentist once every six months to ensure you’re keeping on top of your oral health.
- Maintain a healthy diet and stay away from fizzy drinks and sugary foods.
Tooth Bridge vs Implant: What’s the Difference?
The main difference between dental bridges and implants is the way they’re constructed. Dental bridges are made of an artificial tooth that is held in place between two crowns and the crowns are often fixed onto your natural teeth on either side.
A tooth implant, on the other hand, is an artificial tooth that is placed over an abutment (a metal-like screw) that is fixed into your jaw. Implants can be removable or fixed depending on your personal requirements.
Both are designed to mirror your existing teeth and give the impression they are natural.
Does Getting a Tooth Implant Hurt?
Tooth implant pain after your procedure is completely normal and can be alleviated through over the counter pain medication. During your procedure, however, you should experience no pain as you will be placed under a local anesthetic. If you struggle with anxiety or are a nervous patient, you may be able to ask for a sedative to help calm you through the procedure.
Tooth implant rejection symptoms
In rare cases, your mouth may not take to your new implant and you may require a follow-up procedure to alleviate the problem. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be a sign that your body has rejected the implant:
- Increased pain at the implant site
- Swelling that does not go down after a several days
- A fever or high temperature and chills.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or are in serious discomfort, please contact your dentist as you may be suffering with an infection.
How Much is a Tooth Implant?
You can expect to pay within the region of £2,3000 for your tooth implant procedure at Hove Dental Clinic. This includes a single tooth replacement, fully inclusive for implant and crown and all visits required excluding bone grafting (if needed).
Considering Getting a Tooth Implant?
If reading this article has made you consider the advantages of a tooth implant, why not get in touch with our dental professionals at Hove Dental Clinic? We specialise in caring for nervous patients and use state of the art equipment to ensure a fully comprehensive treatment. Our Principle Dentist Dimitri Mantazis looks forward to welcoming you to our clinic.
Please call or email our friendly team today to arrange a check-up or consultation for your implant procedure.
Are there alternatives to tooth implants?
Yes, you may consider having one of the following as opposed to a dental implant:
- Dental bridge
- Full or partial dentures
The condition of your jaw and your personal requirements will determine what treatment option is best for you.
Can you get braces after a tooth implant?
This is a very common question, the short answer is yes you can get braces with dental implants but the treatments are not mutually exclusive. Your braces will not be able to move your dental implants as it is fixed into your jawbone. To get around this, your dentist may choose to use your implant as an anchor point off which to shift other teeth. In short, braces will be able to move natural teeth but not your implants.
For more information on braces with implants, please speak to your dentist or call our helpdesk at Hove Dental Clinic.
My tooth implant abutment fell out, what shall I do?
If your abutment falls out, simply contact your dentist to get it refitted. Although this is rare, it can happen if your abutment failed to integrate with your implant.
In the case of your abutment falling out, here’s what we would advise:
- Save whatever fell out and bring it to your dentist
- Call your dentist and arrange a visit
- Do not eat food on the side of your mouth where your abutment fell out
The most important instruction is to contact your dentist immediately, as they will be able to book you in for a checkup.
How much do implants cost per tooth?
Implant costs vary depending on the clinic you visit and your personal requirements. Hove Dental Clinic price implants at £2,300 per tooth. You can find out more about our price plans here.
My adjacent tooth is loose after implant, what now?
If your neighbouring tooth feels loose after your implant, contact your dentist for an assessment and they will determine what has caused the loose tooth.
Can anyone have dental implants?
Patients who are appropriate for dental implants should be healthy and have a strong enough jawbone to undergo oral surgery. You will discover whether or not you are a candidate during your routine examination with your dentist. In most cases, all patients with healthy enough gums can be candidates for tooth implant procedures.
I have some of my own teeth, can I still have implants?
Yes, dental implants should not affect your neighbouring teeth and you can choose to have several implants if necessary.