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Unfortunately throughout life teeth can be lost due to variety of accidental or pathological conditions. The most common cause of tooth loss is due to extraction leading from gum disease or decay. Once a tooth is lost several unwanted things can occur, including loss of surrounding bone and tilting/ over eruption of teeth into the space. To prevent these unwanted sequela the space up to recently was filled by making an appliance either fixed or removable to fill the space. Removable appliances included dentures which have certain limitations including poor retention, loss of masticatory function and alteration in taste sensation. These dentures will also need to be replaced many times over a life time as they become ill fitting and unhygienic following years of use .Another alternative is bridges which can be and have been a great success for missing teeth in the past but unfortunately in many cases necessitate the cutting away of healthy teeth in order to provide support.

An alternative method of replacing lost teeth is the dental implant.

With this method implants are inserted into the jawbone which will in turn support the false tooth or teeth. Implants once placed become firmly attached or integrated with the bone and act similar to the root of a tooth. Implants also have the advantage of preserving bone if placed soon after extraction. It is thus beneficial to have the implant placed as soon as possible after loss of teeth .Nonetheless even if teeth are lost for a considerable time implants can be placed depending on surrounding bone or aided by simple grafting procedures.

Suitability for treatment

For a patient requiring implants the condition of the jaws will first have to be assessed for suitability of treatment. This will be done by x-rays study models and in some cases a CT scan .If the bone is deemed adequate implants can be placed, however the final decision to place the implant can only be made on surgery day when bone can be visually accessed.

Implants can be inserted in one of two ways:

This is when the dental implant is placed at the same time that the tooth or teeth are removed. It is not possible if there is infection present and deferral will be needed until tissue heals. Post immediate or delayed dental implant placement. This is when the dental implant is placed in a space where teeth have been missing for some time.

The implant is placed under local anaesthetic in the surgery. If a patient is nervous oral sedation can be given 1 hour prior to placement .Once numb a small hole is prepared in the bone by using a drill similar to having a filling or by using a small punch which is tapped into the bone. The technique used depends on the density of the bone being prepared and implant system being used, occasionally a combination of the two techniques may be used.
The tissue over the implant will need to be sutured and left for a week when they will be removed. After this stage the implants will be left to heal and integrate into the jaw bone for at least three months.

After 3/6-months the implant is exposed and checked to see if it has healed sufficiently. In the event that an implant has failed to take it can simply be removed, otherwise impressions can be taken to construct the final connection and crown which will complete the treatment. Every effort will be made to ensure your final teeth look as natural and just the way you want them to appear.
Please note that every case is different and treatment time required will vary with the degree of difficulty and the amount of work needed for every specific case. This type of precision work is very time consuming and cannot be rushed, as it must be of the highest quality to fit the precise prescription for your mouth.

Removable dentures especially in the case of the full lower denture can benefit greatly from implants. This is a slightly different procedure to replacing individual teeth. In this case 2 -4 implants are placed usually in the lower jaw and allowed to heal .The implants themselves differ as instead of retaining a crown they retain an attachment which clicks into the denture in order to provide retention. The benefit of an implant retained denture is immense .and is seen by most leading dentists in this field as the ” gold standard” for dentures today.