The aim of this information sheet is to help answer some of the questions you may have about having a dental implant. It explains the benefits, risks and alternatives of the procedure as well as what you can expect when you come to your appointment. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Dental implants are artificial replacements for your tooth roots that are placed within the bone to help support dentures, crowns (caps) or bridges. Implants should provide you with a long lasting tooth replacement if they are cared for properly.
What happens during the placement of a dental implant? Treatment is normally divided into two or three stages, each of which may involve several visits to your dentist. Stage one is a pre-operative assessment including x-rays and impressions of your mouth may be needed. These allow us to plan the best way to treat you. A special cone beam x-ray might also be required but your dentist will guide you through the steps and what you personally need.
The next stage of your treatment is to place the implants. This is normally done under local anesthetic (an injection which makes the area where we are working numb) by lifting the gum away from the underlying bone, then gently and carefully drilling into the bone. The implant is inserted into the bone and the gum replaced and held together with some sutures (stitches). The stitches are removed about 10 days later with a post-operative visit.
Following insertion of the implant, some types of implant will stick out through the gum, whilst other types will be buried underneath the gum. The implants will usually be left for at least three months before they are used to support replacement teeth to ensure the implant has fused with your bone making it a successful option for restoration. Implants buried under the gum will require a second small surgical procedure to expose them before they can be used.
Why should I have dental implants? Dental implants can be very useful where we would otherwise have to crown (cap) healthy teeth or where a denture or bridge would be difficult or sometimes impossible because there are no suitable teeth, bone, or tissue for support.
What are the risks? There is a small risk that the implants may not fuse properly with the bone in your mouth and cannot be used. The risk is higher in certain individuals, particularly those who smoke. You will be advised if we think risk of failure is higher than normal in your case.
Implant placement involves surgery in your mouth and so may be followed by some soreness, swelling, bleeding or bruising. Any discomfort is usually controlled with simple painkillers and should only last a few days.
It is possible for parts of your implants to loosen or wear out with time. This can lead to failure of the implant, or the restoration on the implant, if not treated quickly. You will be responsible for the long-term care of your implants which includes but is not limited to maintaining regular 6 month recall (cleaning) appointments.
Some patients who require implants do not have sufficient bone. In these circumstances it may be necessary to carry out a bone graft. Bone grafting can be autogenous where the bone is harvested from your own body in the jaw or hip; allograft where the bone graft comes from a donor; and lastly, xenograft where the bone comes from animal bone. Bone grafting could involve more surgeries, and possibly more associated swelling, bruising and pain. The risks of this procedure will be explained to you separately. With a bone graft, treatment could take four to six months longer.
Are there any other alternatives? The available treatment options will vary a lot from person to person and so will be discussed with you on an individual basis. These may include no treatment, preparing other teeth for crowns or bridges or an alternative design of denture (if possible).
PREPARING FOR AN IMPLANT
How can I prepare for a dental implant? Please make sure you have told us about any problems with your health and about any tablets or medicines you are taking. Some medical conditions change the advice and information we need to give you.
If you are a smoker we strongly advise you to quit and remain a non-smoker in the long-term. This will significantly reduce the risk of some implant complications.
The level of discomfort is variable and generally only requires painkillers, such as ibuprofen, which are available from your local pharmacy. It is better to take these before the local anesthesia wears off, at the interval prescribed on the packet, for the first 24 hours.
POST IMPLANT SURGERY
You should be able to eat normally after the surgery but a soft diet may be advised. You should avoid alcohol for 24 hours. Typically, you should be able to return to work within a day of your treatment. Occasionally you may not be able to wear your dentures for up to two weeks after the surgery but your dentist will advise you if this is the case. You will be given more personalized advice following your treatment about caring for your implants.
Will I have a follow-up appointment? Any dental restorations or dentures based on implants will need regular follow up and occasional maintenance. Your next appointment will be scheduled after the completion of your implant placement. We will expect you to be willing to attend for such care, and or regular checks of the implants themselves.
We want to involve you in all the decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to go ahead, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This confirms that you agree to have the procedure and understand what it involves.
We will inform you about your planned treatment in detail before we start. However, there are times during treatment when we have to change the planned treatment. If this is necessary we will make sure that you are told and give you the choice whether to proceed with the other treatment. If you are having sedation or a general anesthetic for your treatment, we will discuss all possible alternative treatments with you in advance.
If you have further questions or concerns, please contact our office. We want you to feel informed, well educated, and confident with your decision to proceed with an implant. 303-477-7776