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Frequently Asked Questions

A dental implant is a replacement for the root or roots of a natural root, being fixed in the jawbone similar to a natural tooth. Crowns, bridgework or dentures can then be attached to the implant using screws that insert into an internal screw thread within the implant.

Implants are made of titianium, a material that is strong, lightweight and has been shown over many years to be well tolerated by bone. Titanium’s special property of fusing to bone, called osseointegration (“osseo” – bone; “integration” – fusion or joining with), is the biological basis of dental implant success. In fact, dental implants have the highest success rates of any implanted surgical device.

There are many different implant systems available and care must be taken when considering implant treatment because not all implants are made equal and the choice of implant can have a dramatic effect on the chances of success.

Natural teeth and dental implants may look the same, feel the same, and even function in a similar way, but they are very different. The most important differences are in the way they attach to the surrounding bone, their response to dental disease, their maintenance, and repair.

Teeth attach to the surrounding bone by a periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “dont” – tooth) made up of collagen fibres which connect the tooth on one side and bone on the other. Dental implants fuse directly to the bone without having this ligament. The presence of this ligament in a natural tooth allows the tooth to move slightly within the bone, acting as a natural shock absorber, whilst also providing feedback to your brain. In a dental implant, this natural shock absorber is absent, and the feedback lessened.

The gum tissues also attach to the root of a tooth with collagen fibers as described above. However, gum tissues can only stick to the surface of dental implants. This is just one of many reasons why excellent oral hygieine is required around dental implants.

Teeth are susceptible to dental decay as well as the need for root canal therapy; dental implants are metal and do not decay or need root canal. Teeth may also be susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease, while dental implants may be susceptible to peri-implantitis, an inflammatory response to bacterial biofilm of the tissues surrounding the implant, which can result in disintegration of the bone to the implant.

Dental implants are suitable for most adults with good general and oral health.

Implants are restricted generally to those over the age of 18 because they can only be used once the jawbone has stopped growing. However, there is no upper age limit on those suitable for implant treatment.

A healthy mouth is essential to allow the successful placement of dental implants. This means that any gum disease, dental caries or other issues must be addressed before an implant can be placed.

Heavy drinking or smoking can increase the number of problems associated with implant healing and thereafter may negatively impact the long-term health of the gum and bone surrounding each implant. Some dentists will decline to place implants if smoking cannot be reduced or given up altogether.

Some systemic health conditions may impact the suitability of an individual to have dental implants, but it is rare that a dental implant cannot be placed for general health reasons.

If you have a habit of clenching or grinding your teeth this can potentially overload the implants. For most people this occurs during sleep, which is why you may not be not aware of it. Your Smilemakers’ dentist will identify signs of these habits during your assessment and will take this into account in the treatment planning. This should not prevent you being able to have dental implants however.

The successful placement of a dental implant depends greatly on the presence of sufficient quality and quantity of bone. This was traditionally assessed by a combination of clinical examination and x-rays. Advancements in technology now mean that 3-dimensional scanning can be used to greatly enhance the accuracy of these measurements.

If you are lacking in bone, it can be possible to increase the amount of bone available through bone grafting, therefore still enabling you to have dental implants.

If you have any gaps or failing teeth in your mouth, dental implants are usually your best solution. The reasons for this are numerous:

The next best thing to healthy, natural teeth.

Strong and stable, a dental implant restores a lost tooth so that it looks, feels, fits and functions like a natural tooth. Other options can lead to bone deterioration, and may interfere with eating, smiling, speaking and other activities of everyday life.

Can replace any number of missing teeth.

If you are missing just one natural tooth, then one implant is normally all that will be needed to provide a replacement. Larger spaces created by two, three or more missing teeth do not necessarily need one implant per tooth, however the exact number of implants will depend upon the quality and volume of bone at each potential implant site.

Built to last. Dental implants are a long-term solution.

Dental implant treatment has a track record of reliable, long-term successful outcomes and is often considered “more predictable” than other treatments to repair or replace missing teeth, including bridgework, removable appliances and re-treatment of failing root canal (endodontic) therapy.

Traditional, tooth-supported dental bridges should usually last more than 10 years if well cared for, but at some point they will need to be replaced. While dental implants may need periodic adjustments, they can last a lifetime when properly placed and cared for over time.

Protect your healthy teeth.

Placing a tooth-supported bridge usually requires preparation of the teeth on one or both sides of the missing tooth or teeth, therefore damaging healthy teeth to restore those that are missing. The prepared healthy teeth are attached to, and support, the bridge. This does result in an increased chance of needing further work in future on these teeth, whether it be a new bridge, root canal treatment or in the worst cases, extraction.

Because dental implants go into the jawbone, in the spot where your missing tooth root was, they don’t affect the adjacent healthy teeth. They also help prevent the healthy adjacent teeth from shifting as they would if an empty space were left for an extended period of time.

Protect healthy bone.

Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to additional health issues, such as the loss and deterioration of some of your jawbone. When it is not being used to support a natural tooth, the jawbone deteriorates, losing its strength and firmness. Dental implants are the only restorative option that can prevent bone loss and stimulate natural bone growth.

Many people report that after a while their dentures become progressively looser and do not fit as well as they once did. Initially the increased rate of bone loss following extractions is responsible for the observed deterioration of denture fit. Over the long-term it is the direct effect of chewing forces that causes slow resorption of supporting bone. Most people who have had dentures for many years will have needed a reline procedure to compensate for this bone loss. The longer that dentures are worn, the less bone will generally be available for dental implants.

Enjoy life without worrying about your teeth!

No need to stay home or feel uncomfortable in public, embarrassed because your smile looks different, or worrying that missing teeth will limit your ability to join in the fun or that removable dentures or tooth-supported replacement teeth will loosen or fall out when you talk, eat or laugh. Teeth restored with dental implants are teeth that let you, not your teeth, lead your life.

Retain your natural face shape and reduce wrinkles

A face without teeth can sag and appear sunken and sad. Dental implants allow you to maintain the natural shape of your face and smile, improving facial contours and minimizing premature wrinkles.

Keep your teeth in your mouth – not in a cup.

Dental implants allow you to keep your teeth where they belong – in your mouth. And no more worrying that your dentures might slip or fall out. Brush, floss and care for teeth that have been replaced using dental implants exactly the way you would natural teeth.

Stabilise loose dentures

Dentures can often slip when you eat, talk, smile, laugh, kiss, yawn or cough, so that you have to “reposition” them back into place in the mouth. By having the denture attached to dental implants you can are fixed in place and fuse naturally with your jawbone, meaning your replacement teeth won’t move or click.

Speak easily.

Adjusting to removable dentures can mean struggling to pronounce everyday words. Not so with implants. Because dental implants function like natural teeth, your speech will be unaffected.

Eat and enjoy your favourite foods

Taste and enjoy the foods you love without hesitation. With dental implants you can bite naturally, eat virtually anything you want and, unlike removable dentures that can feel uncomfortable, you can experience the full taste of the food.

Research has shown that 90% of dental implants are still in place and functioning well after 15 years. If the implants are looked after well they can last a lifetime. It could probably be said that implants much like teeth will last for as long as you can keep them clean. This is a huge advantage of dental implants over conventional bridges and dentures.

However, just as you would expect conventional crowns, bridges and fillings to need occasional repairs or replacements during their lifetime, the restoration on top of the implant may also have similar maintenance requirements.

If they are poorly cared for, implants will develop a covering of hard and soft deposits (calculus and plaque) which is very similar to that found on neglected natural teeth. Untreated, these deposits can lead to gum disease which can ultimately lead to failure of the implant.

For most implant-supported teeth you will be able to clean around each supporting implant by brushing and flossing in just the same way that you would around natural teeth and tooth-supported bridges. In some areas special floss, interdental toothbrushes and other cleaning aids may be needed to maintain good oral hygiene. Cleaning is not at all difficult, provided that you do not have impaired use of your hands.

It is reasonable to expect some of the daily hygiene procedures to be a little more complex than around your original teeth – equally expect to spend more time than you may have done in the past if you wish to maintain optimum implant health.

Regular visits to the Hygienist for professional cleaning is strongly recommended and will help your implants hopefully last a lifetime

If an implant does not achieve or cannot maintain an integration with the surrounding bone it will eventually become loose and no longer be able to support replacement teeth.

Failures may not always be easy to deal with and if you embark upon this type of treatment you have to be prepared to deal with this possibility, however small. At Smilemakers we achieve failure rates of less than 1% and will replace any implant failing within a year free of charge. Fortunately, due to the rigorous procedures we follow with our dental implants, this occurrence is very rare.

Is it pain free?

At Smilemakers Implant Clinic we pride ourselves in providing the ultimate in comfortable implant treatment.

Many of our patients are nervous about having implant treatment when they first attend for a consultation. There are many preconceived notions and assumptions about having a dental implant, aswell as the odd unpleasant story. The most common misconception about dental implant treatment is that it must be painful.

This is definitely not the case at Smilemakers Implant Clinic, where our mission is to spread the message that dental implant treatment can be painless. Hear what just a few of our implants patients have to say regarding their treatment, and how comfortable they found it:

Placement of the implant will require a local anaesthetic to be administered, similar to having a simple dental filling. Following this, the implant is placed noiselessly and with little discomfort. Extensive training and research, together with investment in the highest quality specialist equipment means that you can be assured of having the most comfortable treatment possible. Most people return to work the following day.

In the days following the implant placement, there will usually be some tenderness in the treated area. This is a result of a natural swelling reaction and varies from person to person. In those individuals who do experience this, it usually only lasts 2 to 3 days before returning to normal. Over the counter ibuprofen or equivalent painkillers will help during this period.


Nervous patients

For those few patients who feel their nerves will not cope without a little assistance to make them feel more relaxed, we can offer help to settle those nerves through sedation. Sedation can either take the form of having a tablet or two before the procedure, or by having a calming drug introduced into the back of the hand. Both of these procedures help you to relax, meaning that whilst you will remain awake at all points during the procedure, your nerves should be a thing of the past.

Due to the comfort of the advanced implant treatment at Smilemakers, sedation is rarely required.

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