Dental implants may be a good solution for you if you have gaps, missing teeth, dentures that are loose or unexpectedly drop down or you are unable to chew properly. 

A dental implant is the closest thing to a natural tooth your dentist can give you. The biggest advantage of dental implants is that the adjacent teeth are not damaged or cut in any way. They feel much more natural and secure than traditional removable dentures, especially if these are loose fitting because of extensive bone loss. If several adjacent teeth are missing, a fixed bridge may be attached to dental implants as an alternative to a removable partial denture plate. They also help to prevent bone loss. 

A dental implant can be thought of as an artificial tooth root that is placed into the jawbone and then fitted with a crown, a fixed bridge or a full set of dentures. A dental implant is fabricated from a very strong, biocompatible material placed in a simple surgical procedure. After an initial healing period, during which the implant is buried in bone and left undisturbed under gum tissue, it is uncovered and connected to a small metal post that secures and supports the artificial tooth. 

The implant material is extremely biocompatible. The bone grows to the implant and bonds to it. This makes the implant very strong. The process is called 'osseointegration'. This can usually take 3-­6 months depending on where the implant is placed. 

The success rate of dental implants depends on where in the jaw the implants  are placed. The lower jaw has a very good chance of success (98%). The further back in the mouth you go, the lesser the prognosis, but this is generally over 90%. If you smoke, the chances of success drop by at least 10%. 

There are occasions when dental implants fail. This means the implant has not attached or integrated to the bone. It usually occurs at the second stage surgery. The failed implant is unscrewed, the bone left to heal for a while and a new implant placed. Other options such dentures or bridges may also be considered. 

Not everyone is a good candidate for this procedure. You will need to be evaluated to see how much bone you have and whether there is enough space for an implant. The adjacent teeth roots will also need to be away from the implant. If you don't have enough bone, it is possible to grow bone or even have a graft placed. If this is the case, you will be referred to an oral-­?maxillo facial surgeon to place the implant surgically. Once it has integrated, you will then have the impressions and crown fabricated  to fit onto the implant. 

Complications of dental implants

The risk of complications is considered to be very low for dental implants. Though the vast majority (more than 95 percent) of all dental implant procedures are completed without complication.

  • Potential problems include
  • infection
  • insufficient bone mass
  • incorrect positioning, fractured implants
  • damage to surrounding tissue (including gums, nerves and blood vessels)
  • damage to surrounding teeth
  • overloading

Keep in mind that all is not lost if a dental implant fails. Surgeons can usually attempt a second implant, either immediately or within several months after the area has sufficiently healed.

Oral surgery can result in considerable discomfort. Bruising and swelling of your gums and face, pain, and minor bleeding are all common and not necessarily indicative of infection. However, it's wise to keep your surgeon apprised of those symptoms.

Infection (the medical term is peri-­implantitis) can not only set in during the actual implant procedure, or during the crown restoration, but patients must be vigilant that they don't leave themselves susceptible to post-surgery infection, too. If left untreated, even minor problems can threaten the long-­term viability of the implant.

Key facts

  • Implant surgery consists of cutting into the gum to reveal the jawbone, where holes are drilled for the dental implant anchor.
  • After the anchor and surrounding bone fuse, a process that can last from two to six months, the surgeon will then attach an abutment for the crown, or the crown itself, to the anchor. This procedure requires reopening the surrounding gums, so care must be taken to prevent infection.

Important to know

Good dental hygiene is critical in keeping infection at bay. Non-­?smokers and patients with good oral hygiene habits put themselves in a much better position for a full and fast recovery. Smokers will typically be encouraged to stop smoking beforehand to improve the odds of successful surgery. If properly constructed and cared for, most dental implants should last a lifetime

Dental surgeons

Find a surgeon that is the right fit for you

Find a surgeon