Living with diseased, damaged or missing teeth? Are you someone who hides in embarrassment when the camera comes out because of your smile?
In the past, your only choice was dentures or a bridge. Dentures tend to shift, inhibiting your ability to talk and eat the foods you love.
Modern dentistry has developed a new technology called dental implants, which look, feel and act more like natural teeth. Green Lane Dental Centre in South East London offers expert dental and restorative care, including different types of dental implants.
What Causes Tooth Loss and Damage
If the state of your teeth is a cause for concern, you can blame periodontal (gum) disease. It is the world’s leading cause of tooth loss. Periodontal disease develops due to inflammation of the gums. If not treated, the infection can spread to the bone, weakening the supportive structure that holds your teeth in place. This often leads to tooth loss.
According to Colgate.com, signs of gum disease include:
- Swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums
- Receding gums or gums that pull away from the teeth
- Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Pus around the teeth or gums
Gum disease can affect more than your smile. Experts believe there is a direct link between oral health and your overall health. According to NHS.uk, reports that researchers have linked periodontal disease to serious health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Once periodontal disease sets in, you will have few options.
At this point, your only options may be invasive procedures like bone grafts or restorative measures such as dentures, bridges or dental implants.
The Dental Implant Difference
According to MedicineNet.com, there are three types of prosthetic dental devices: dentures, fixed dental bridges, and dental implants. Partial or full dentures are probably the most common “fix” for missing teeth. These devices rest on the gums and are removable.
The downside of dentures is that they can shift and come loose, making it harder for you to eat certain foods and even talk.
Dental bridges span the gaps between missing teeth, helping to support the remaining ones. Bridges are implanted below the gum line, so they are not removable. A bridge can be more secure than dentures, but it does require existing natural teeth on either side in order to keep the device in place.
Dental implants are the latest technology used to replace missing teeth. They are metal posts that are surgically implanted below the gum line, directly into the jawbone. After the post has fused to the bone, a replacement tooth (or crown) fits over the post. The benefit of dental implants is that they are designed to look and function like natural teeth. You can eat whatever you want without worrying about them moving around in your mouth.
You can choose a single implant, multiple implants, implant supported dentures or a full set of fixed teeth, with a procedure called 4/All on 6.
Two Different Types of Dental Implants
Dental implants match the size, shape, and colour of your natural teeth. There are two main types of dental implants. You and your dentists will choose the best option based on the state of your jawbone.
Endosteal dental implants are metal posts, which are surgically placed into the jawbone, below the gum line. The posts are made of titanium and they look a lot like small screws. Once you have healed, your dentist will put a replacement tooth made of hard material like porcelain over the post.
Subperiosteal dental implants sit under the gum line, but they rest above or on the jawbone. Rather than a post (screw), this type of implant uses a metal frame, which is fitted onto the jawbone. A post sticks out from the frame, forming the base for the replacement tooth.
Dental implants require you to have a healthy jawbone, as you need a good support structure to hold the implant in place. If you have damage or weakness, you may need bone augmentation, which will help restore the strength of the jaw. If you are missing upper back teeth, a sinus lift may be needed. To replace areas of deterioration, your dentist will add bone below the sinuses.
Dental Implant Alternatives
Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. If your jawbone has experienced a lot of deterioration, you may not have the structural support needed. In this case, you might need alternative treatment.
Alternative dental implant options include:
- Immediate Load Dental Implants, also known as Teeth in a Day® involves using temporary teeth, which are later replaced by the permanent implant.
- Mini Dental Implants (MDIs) are smaller and much narrower than traditional implants so they do not need as much room.
- All-on-4® can replace an entire upper or lower set of teeth by using four strategically placed implants. You will get temporary replacement teeth in one appointment, and then about six months later, your permanent teeth
Components of Dental Implants
There are three main components of dental implants.
Part 1: The first part is the fixture, which is the component that is actually implanted into the bone. It resembles a small screw. The implant fuses with the surrounding bone, which is why it is so strong and durable. Fixtures are generally made of a strong metal called titanium.
Part 2: The abutment lies on the gum line. It screws into the fixture (implant), forming the base for the crown (prosthesis).
Part 3: The final component is the prosthesis, which can be a single crown, bridge or full dentures. The crown is either cemented over the abutment or screwed in place. The materials used for crowns include a variety of hard substances or metals like porcelain fused to metal, ceramic, gold or other alloys, and resin.
Explaining the Dental Implant Procedure
Obtaining dental implants is a process that can take several months, depending on the procedure you choose, the current state of your teeth, and the condition of your jawbone.
There are 5 stages you should know about.
Stage 1: Assessment
During the preparation stage, your oral/dental surgeon will assess the overall health of your jawbone, gums, and remaining natural teeth. You will have X-rays taken to determine if your jawbone is strong enough to support implants. If not, you may need other procedures, such as bone augmentation or a sinus lift.
Stage 2: Preparing the implant site(s)
Unfortunately, you cannot just go into a dentist’s office and have this procedure done in one day (in most cases). You must first undergo oral surgery. Any damaged or diseased teeth will need to come out.
According to MedicineNet.com, many patients need to have an “alveolar bone graft” (cadaver or synthetic bone) to strengthen the jawbone.
If you have healthy bone, an “onlay bone graft” will be placed on top of the jawbone. In either case, you will need several months to heal from surgery. In rare cases, you might be able to have an “immediate implant” put in, provided you have enough healthy bone.
Stage 3: Implant put in place
Once you have healed, you will return to the oral surgeon. The implant (titanium post) will be surgically placed into the bone. You will have a temporary cap to protect the implant while you heal. Most people need about 2-6 months, during which the implant will fuse with the surrounding bone.
Stage 4: Abutment placed
Once the second round of healing is over, a prosthetic device called an abutment will be connected to the implant. An abutment is a structure that holds the crown(s) in place. A mould (impression) will be taken of the abutment and this will be used to design the crown(s).
Stage 5: Crown placed
When your crown(s) is ready, it will be either cemented or screwed to the abutment.
Stage 6: Enjoy your smile
While the process does seem long and involved, the results are worth the effort. In the end, you will have restored confidence and function.
The Smile You Have Always Wanted
Dental Implants are one way to achieve a beautiful smile that means never again hiding from a camera. Plus, you can eat what you want and talk freely, without worrying about your dentures slipping or falling out.
Green Lane Dental Centre offers professional, affordable dental care. We serve residents of Penge, Sydenham, Bromley, Pakenham, Crystal Palace, Norwood, Dulwich, Forest Hill, and other neighbouring communities in South East London.
Our dental experts offer a range of restorative and cosmetic procedures, including dental implants, dental bridges, dentures, smile makeovers, veneers, clear braces, and Invisalign®. Instantly see what your smile could look like with our online 60-second Smile Makeover (60S).
If you are ready to have beautiful, healthy-looking teeth, look into the different types of dental implants and then go online today to book an appointment. We look forward to giving you a reason to smile.