Dental Implants – General Overview
To provide jaw bone anchorage for crowns, bridges or denture stabilisation in those areas of the mouth where the natural teeth have either been lost or are no longer suitable for this purpose
What are they? / How do they work? :
They are most commonly made from inert, biocompatible Titanium and come in a variety of the shapes and sizes required to fit the residual bone dimensions of the proposed implant area.
Although in certain cases, this is not required, following insertion, there will normally be an integration period [when the bone ‘knits’ onto the implants] of around 2 to 6 months dependent on the bone quality at the implant site.
At the end of this phase, crowns, bridges or dentures are attached to them by means of connectors from the implant body to the crown, denture etc.
Note: With dentures, we now have a mini implant system that, in one appointment, allows us to place implants and lock the denture[s] in place.
Are Implants suitable for everyone [and in all circumstances]? :
There are two basic factors governing this:-
There are certain medical / health situations [mainly involved with bone metabolism (biochemistry) ] which can render implants an unsuitable option [e.g. uncontrolled diabetes, osteoporosis, pacemakers]. Although smokers are potentially viewed as implant retention risks, recent research indicates that this is not necessarily a problem.
Bone Anatomy or ‘Quality’:
Stable anchorage is dependant not only on integration but also on the ‘strength’ and volume [amount] of residual bone. If the bone is of a ‘weak’ quality or has insufficient depth / width then it may not be able to withstand the chewing forces that would subsequently be placed on it – causing the implant to ‘fail’.
Periodontal [‘Gum’] Condition:
As infected or inflamed gum tissue can much more easily lead to bone loss around implants than with natural teeth, healthy gum tissues are also a prerequisite for successful implant therapy
The above three factors are the main ‘guiding’ principles in deciding any individual’s suitability for this type of treatment.
What Treatment Procedures are involved in placing dental implants? :
There are nine possible stages involved:
Assessment: to ensure individual suitability for implants and to plan treatment.
This is the stage whereby we collate all the information [through x-rays, plaster casts of the mouth and other factors like past and current medical / dental history, examination of chewing patterns, gum / bone condition etc.] required both for assessing individual suitability and for then producing the detailed planning required.
If required, some form of temporary bridges or dentures are constructed for usage until the implants are ready for ‘loading’ [i.e. being brought into function].
Bone Augmentation (Bone build-up):
If required [either prior to or simultaneously with implant placement] to render the bone site[s] suitable for implant placement
The relatively simple surgical procedure for insertion of the implants.
The 2-6 month period required for the implant to ‘knit’ into the bone.
When the gum is flapped back to expose and allow fit of a connector to the implant[s] and is the first stage in the construction and connection of crowns, bridges or dentures.
As the bone around the implant as been ‘unstressed’ for quite some time, it will have become ‘weaker’ and will require gentle stimulation to ‘bring it up to strength’.
Frequently this involves the provision of Treatment Crowns or Bridges made of a ‘softer’ material than the Permanent ones.
This stage is also used to commence the creation create a ‘life-like’ contouring [shaping] of the gum tissue around the crowns and bridges.
Dentures, being plastic based, do not require this stage and can be taken straight to their final construction.
When all the above stages are complete, the permanent crowns and bridges can be made and attached to the implants either by screws or cement.
This ongoing stage, in which the major commitment falls on the patient’s shoulders, is concerned with ensuring the most perfect daily cleaning possible all around all these implant supported restorations and is, by far, the most important in ensuring the long-term stability of these implant supported restorations.
What does this type of treatment cost?
As you will have probably gathered from the foregoing précis of the possible stages involved with Dental Implants, unlike ‘regular’ dental restorations [which are placed within the existing ‘framework’ of the mouth], in this branch of dentistry we are dealing with the need to, firstly, restore lost framework [i.e. the roots of the natural teeth] before being able to place ‘regular’ dental restorations.
As such, not only will the associated fees have to reflect this ‘double’ requirement, they will also have to reflect the extensive time required both in the diagnostic / planning stage and the skill factors in the placement of the implants, the construction of the crowns, bridges or dentures and the ‘life-like’ cosmetics of the completed reconstruction
Due to the great degree of individual variance in both requirements and suitability, every treatment plan has to be ‘tailor-made’ to ‘suit’ each individual and, as such, it is very difficult to produce any ‘ball-park’ figures – at least until after a Provisional Assessment appointment.
The minimum requirement for this Provisional Assessment requires a detailed examination of the existing dental condition together with a full-scan x-ray and plaster casts of the mouth. The time required is, normally, one hour and the fees [inclusive of the plaster casts and full scan x-ray] comes to £275.00
From that information, we can then decide what specialized diagnostic information, if any, is required. With that secondary information to hand, we would be in a position to provide you with a detailed Estimate for your individual requirements.
Meanwhile, to give you some idea of costs, inclusive of implant purchase & laboratory fees, a single implant / crown would come to approximately £2,500.00