Dental Implants- A patient’s guide

They are often described as dentistry’s closest replacement to the natural tooth and considered to be the most successful of all complex dental procedures.

Here, Dr Peter Sanders, answers a few questions, explaining how dental implants are fast becoming the most popular solution to tooth loss by offering significantly more benefits than all other methods of tooth replacement.

What are dental implants?

An implant consists of a titanium screw that effectively acts as an artificial tooth root and is placed into a small hole in the jaw bone.

After precise planning, the implant is inserted to provide a naturally invisible replacement for the missing tooth, allowing you to speak, eat and smile as you did before the loss.

Unlike bridges, dentures, caps and crowns- implants are a permanent solution. They also replace a single tooth with a single tooth and therefore do not cause any further damage to neighbouring teeth or reduce bone tissue in the way bridges and dentures do. The replacement tooth is also designed to be a perfect match and unlike a bridge, does not discolour or look out of place alongside your natural teeth.

Can people tell if a patient has had dental implants placed?

Our restorations are developed to look, feel and function exactly as your natural teeth would, allowing you to confidently speak, laugh, smile and eat. At Dental Confidence we make sure every element of the replacement is considered from matching the colour of the restoration to your natural teeth, to focusing on the phonetics so that your speech isn’t in any way compromised by your new replacements.

Do you need to be a certain age to have implants?

Contrary to popular belief there is no age limit to having dental implants, however it is very important that surgery is not performed until the jaw bone has completely stopped growing. This means that implants shouldn’t be placed until the patient has reached an age of around 18 years old. Older age however, is not a limiting factor unless the patient has insufficient bone tissue for implant placement.

Can implants replace dentures?

Implants can replace single teeth, bridges and dentures. With four to six implants, dentures can be secured with great stability providing significant long term improvement. After precise planning the implants are placed in the jaw bone then the full denture or new bridge is fixed in place. This means patients no longer need to hide their smile, be conscious of speaking socially, ignore the food they would love to eat or contain their laughter.

Do dental implants last a lifetime?

The longevity of dental implants is generally very high. If a patient maintains a good standard of hygiene they will last for a lifetime.

Unlike any other dental procedure, implants are a one-time investment that can be a long-term solution.

Is the implant placement procedure painful?

Dental implant placement is virtually always pain free and nearly all of our patients are pleasantly surprised at how little discomfort is experienced throughout the entire procedure.

Dental implants are fixed under local anaesthetic, therefore the most you are likely to feel throughout the procedure would be a slight vibration or feeling of pressure.

However, some patients do opt for sedation during a treatment, which is something that can be considered.

Are dental implants expensive?

Whilst implants often appear to be an expensive option, it is important that a patient considers the fact that they can be a lifelong solution.

The British Dental Health Foundation themselves recently stated that, ‘over the longer term, implants are usually a more cost-effective and satisfactory option.’ The life expectancy of a bridge however, is only around 10 years, so implants are often the better option.