A dental implant is a modern treatment option to replace a missing tooth.
The dental implant itself is an artificial tooth root in the form of a screw, made of biocompatible titanium metal. Like a screw, the dental implant is inserted into jawbone and allowed to become a part of it (osseointegrate). An artificial tooth or crown is subsequently attached to the implant by a connector called an abutment. In this way, a crown can be supported by a dental implant and is able to replace your missing tooth. Independent of adjacent teeth, an implant supported crown can feel similar to, and function reliably like, a natural tooth.
Multiple dental implants may be used to support individual crowns or a combination of dental bridges (long spans of multiple crowns joined together) if a patient needs to replace many missing teeth, or even all of their teeth. Dental implants have the advantage of enabling larger gaps in the mouth to be restored independently, without relying on the preparation of adjacent natural teeth to attach the artificial replacement teeth. They may also be used to hold dentures in place with special clips or attachments (similar to press studs) to significantly improve denture stability.
Suitability - Criteria for the Placement of a Dental Implant
A patient needs to be assessed to determine whether he or she may be a suitable candidate for this type of procedure. Dental implants are designed to last many years but poor oral hygiene, infections and smoking can shorten their lifespan. Other oral health problems need to be corrected before implants are placed in order to ensure the ongoing success of the implant following its placement.
Timing the Placement of Dental Implants - Immediate Or Delayed Implant Placement?
A dental implant may be placed at the same time a tooth is removed. This is termed immediate placement. However, placement may be delayed for at least 6 weeks after tooth removal, to allow for bone healing if there is a complicating factor such as an infection or a concern about the jawbone at the proposed placement site. A patient who lacks sufficient jawbone to place a dental implant may require additional bone replacement techniques such as grafting to rebuild enough bone for an implant site.
Dental implant procedures can be performed using local anaesthetic or general anaesthesia, depending on the complexity of the procedure or whether a patient is uncomfortable with the idea of being awake during surgery. Surgical placement is usually undertaken with a specialist Oral and Maxilla-Facial surgeon or Periodontist.
Temporary Teeth while Awaiting your Dental Implant
A temporary denture may need to be worn for a period to replace missing teeth until implants are ready to have the crowns or bridgework placed. This maybe a period of approximately 3 months, if a delayed rather than immediate plan is recommended.
Restoration of Dental Implants
Restoration of implants with crowns, bridges or dentures is usually completed at our practice. At Melbourne Dentistry we are familiar with all major TGA- approved implant systems.
When restoring our patients' dental implants, we choose to use only genuine brand name components from Straumann or Astra Tech for restoring respective types of implant fixtures - to support treatment success. Recent studies have confirmed the use of non-genuine implant system componentry may adversely affect the treatment prognosis for dental implants.
Periodically, referral to a specialist Prosthodontist, may be advised depending on a patient's treatment needs. We work with Melbourne's top dental specialists and ceramic laboratories to ensure the best treatment outcomes for our patients.