Implants are used to restore spaces that have resulted from the loss of one or more teeth. A dental implant is constructed from a very pure grade of surgical titanium. The implant itself resembles a small screw. The implants can be used to support crowns or bridges and even to hold a full set of dentures more securely.
Before any patient can have an implant placed it is essential that a thorough assessment is undertaken. This may involve, in addition to a highly detailed clinical examination, an OPT, periapical radiographs, study casts, facebow registration and in some cases a CT scan.
The CT scans are taken in circumstances where we require more detailed information on certain aspects of the planning - such as how close important structures are (the sinuses, nerves etc) or on how much bone is available for the implant. We believe that the single most important element for successful implants is thorough and methodical planning. Once the scan is taken (this takes about 2 minutes) the electronic digital data is transferred to our surgery where our computer software analyses the information and produces cross sectional and 3 dimensional images of the jaw bone and lower part of the skull.
The implant is placed under local anaesthesia in a small surgical procedure. In many cases this can be done at the same time as the doomed tooth is extracted. Often the surgery can be performed under IV sedation.
The implant is usually left undisturbed for a period of up to 6 months, during which time the bone grows onto and fuses with the titanium. This is a phenomenon known as osseointegration and basically means that a strong biological bond develops between the bone and implant. It is this fusion that makes surgical grade titanium unique amongst all metals. In some cases a crown can be made to fit onto the implant at the same time that it is placed - a technique termed 'immediate function'.
Once the implant is ready a post or abutment will be connected which will be used to support either a provisional denture, a crown or a bridge.