Here at the Mews, the quality of clinical care and of the patient experience is paramount. We have, for many years, treated patients who are perhaps anxious at the thought of dental treatment.
Very few people really enjoy their first visit to a dentist – even one as helpful and caring as Mews! If you suffer from dental phobia or require extensive dental work, you might consider the benefits of dental treatment under sedation.
Implantology is the latest solution for missing teeth. Tooth implants offer a permanent solution to missing teeth. More and more dentists are recommending them to their patients.
Artificial teeth can be fixed into your mouth, almost in the same way as your natural teeth, by constructing and implanting an artificial tooth root in your gum which fuses to your jawbone. The root is in the form of a tiny metal post, made of surgical grade titanium. An artificial tooth is then attached to this metal post.
The treatment can be carried out for one or more teeth, and care is taken to ensure that the new artificial tooth is the same colour and shape as your existing teeth. The whole procedure is carried out under anaesthetic, minimising any pain and discomfort.
Because they are anchored into your jaw, implanted teeth are completely secure and stable. Unlike bridges they are not anchored to adjacent teeth and so do not carry a risk of affecting the structure of your existing teeth. Also, implants require no special maintenance apart from your usual dental routine of brushing and flossing.
Implants are suitable for most adults, regardless of how the teeth have been lost, and we will fully discuss the pros and cons with you. There are only a few cases in which we would not recommend them. Before we do, our implantology specialists will undertake a full examination and an X-ray to ensure that implants are the right solution for you.
While dental implants were attempted for many decades in the twentieth century, it was not until the 1950s that new developments laid the foundations for modern reconstructive surgery.
Professor Per-Ingvar Branemark was perhaps the most important figure in the advancement of implant dentistry. His breakthrough discovery was that bone can integrate with titanium components. That is, living bone could become so fused with the titanium oxide layer of an implant that the two could not be separated without fracture. This process, whereby nature allows the attachment of bone cells to the titanium surface, is known as ‘osseointegration’.
As a result of studying the osseointegration process, scientists developed dental implants which are simply small titanium cylinders placed into the jawbone to support replacement teeth. These titanium implants fuse with your bone and provide a permanent anchor for a prosthetic reconstruction which looks and feels like a natural tooth. Worldwide, more than 800,000 patients have been treated with dental implant reconstructions since 1965.
Dental Implants Eliminate Pain and Discomfort
Other than dental implants, an alternative method of replacing missing teeth is through the placement of removable full or partial dentures. However, since dentures sit on top of the jawbone and gums, continuous shrinkage of the jaw bone can alter the fit of the denture, resulting in slipping or rocking of the dentures. Exposed nerves and irritation of the gum tissue may add to the discomfort. Dental implants eliminate the pain and discomfort of removable full or partial dentures. Dental implant supported replacement teeth are like natural teeth because they are anchored securely to your jawbone. Gum irritation and the pain of exposed nerves associated with conventional full or partial dentures are thereby eliminated.
Dental Implants Prevent Bone Loss
As a result of losing one or more teeth, there is inevitably loss of mass to the jaw. This affects the overall skeletal structure of the face which not only changes your profile but also may result in thin lips, drooping muscles, jowls or witch's chin. Spreading bone loss in the jaw affects the gums and ridges in your mouth, as well as the muscles and nerves in and around the mouth. Dental implants prevent bone loss, because implants halt and even reverse the bone loss that results from losing teeth. On the other hand, complete denture wearers become aware of jawbone loss as their dentures become loose. People who lose one tooth, which is replaced by a bridge, may even be unaware that the jaw bone is dissolving.
It appears as if dental implants ‘trick’ the bone into thinking there is still a tooth present. By transmitting the natural forces of chewing to the jaw, dental implants increase bone density. Dental implants have been proven not only to stop bone loss, but in some cases actually to reverse bone loss and restore the health of the jaw. By preventing the loss of the bony structure of the jaw and face, implants help prevent facial collapse thus helping to preserve your appearance.
When replacing missing teeth with dentures, these can slip and slide around the mouth. The facial muscles become tense in an attempt to hold the dentures in place. This often results in mumbling, slurred speech or ‘clicking’ noises. Dental implants allow you to speak with confidence in a relaxed and natural tone.
Dental implants can eliminate the numerous embarrassing inconveniences of removable full and partial dentures. Implants eliminate the use of gooey denture adhesives that must be re-applied throughout the day. You will no longer need to cover your mouth when you laugh or smile, for fear that your teeth will pop out or fall down!
Dental implants restore chewing efficiency comparable to that of natural teeth. Patients with dental implants can therefore eat a wide range of food items with less difficulty, and experience less impact in daily life than patients with dentures. In addition, a full upper denture covers the palate of the mouth and reduces the ability to taste foods. With dental implants, you can have the palate removed from your upper denture so that you can taste and enjoy your food to the full.
Since dental implants look, feel and function like natural teeth, you will have a new set of teeth or a new tooth that will greatly improve the cosmetic appearance of your smile.
In general, anyone missing at least one tooth and healthy enough to undergo routine dental treatment, including tooth extraction, is probably able to undergo dental implant treatment. There are some medical conditions that warrant special consideration before placing dental implants. Certain chronic diseases, heavy smoking or alcohol abuse may contraindicate dental implant treatment.
If you already wear dentures but are psychologically uncomfortable with them (e.g. you lack confidence due to the appearance or poor fit of your false teeth), or find them physically difficult (e.g. you cannot taste food properly due to the dentures), you should consider implants. You are never too old to have dental implants.
There are two things to keep in mind, however, when considering dental implants. First, they may not be covered by your dental insurance, although that is currently changing. Second, you will need to have the patience to wait three to eighteen months for the entire dental implant process to be completed, depending on the type of restoration that will best serve your needs.
The first step in the process of dental implants is to make an appointment with a qualified dentist for an evaluation. S/he will examine your mouth and teeth and take a thorough medical and dental history. You will have X-rays and possibly a CT scan, which will give the dentist a good idea of your bone density and the shape of your jaw.
Dental implants are usually completed in two phases:
Phase 1 is the actual dental implant placement. This procedure is generally performed in the dental surgery with local sedation or light sedation to help make the patient more comfortable. Using precise, gentle surgical techniques, the implants are placed into the jawbone for three to six months while osseointegration (bonding to bone) takes place. This helps ensure a strong, solid foundation for replacement teeth. During this time, temporary bridges or dentures may be used to minimize any cosmetic or chewing inconvenience.
Phase 2 involves creating and attaching the new tooth or teeth to the anchored dental implant(s) in your jaw. Dental implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth or complete dentures. Your dentist can recommend the best choice for you.
Recently, an alternative to the two-step method has been developed that allows you to have the dental implant installed in one whole piece during a single session at your dentist. This new method has simplified the dental implant procedure considerably, both for patients and dentists.
The precise approach chosen depends on several factors, such as the patient’s dental health, the number of teeth involved and which teeth are to be replaced. These factors will also determine the total number of visits to the dentist throughout the implant procedure and treatment period.
Two of the major questions people ask when it comes to dental implants are: ‘What is the long-term success rate?’ and ‘How long will they last?’.
The simple answer to the long-term success rate is that dental implants can fail, but fortunately this occurs very infrequently. Failure rates vary depending on the site in the mouth, whether they are placed into natural or grafted bone and whether the patient smokes. The overall success rate in natural bone is 95%, though this falls to between 85% and 90% in grafted bone. If a patient smokes, it has been shown that they are statistically two-and-a-half times more likely to have an implant fail than for a non-smoker.
As to the longevity of dental implants, at the present time we cannot fully answer this question. At the moment, we can only say that the first patient who had dental implants placed in 1965 still has his original implants functioning today.
That said, undoubtedly the best means to avoid ailing or failing dental implants is to maintain meticulous oral hygiene, and to evaluate the dental implant both clinically and radiographically via frequent visits with your dentist.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is the surgical specialism that includes the diagnosis and surgical and related treatments of a wide spectrum of diseases, injuries, defects and aesthetic aspects of the mouth, teeth, jaws, face, head and neck. It is an internationally recognized surgical specialism.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained to treat and care for patients who experience conditions such as problem wisdom teeth, facial pain, and misaligned jaws. They treat accident victims suffering facial injuries, offer reconstructive and dental implant surgery, and care for patients with tumours, cysts, and developmental craniofacial abnormalities of the jaws / face and functional and aesthetic conditions of the maxillofacial areas.
The scope of this specialism is extensive and concerns the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the oral (mouth) and maxillofacial (face and neck) regions, including the following:
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