What is involved with dental implants?
Placing dental implants requires a small operation. This can be carried out under local anesthesia, with sedation, or with a general anesthetic. You will not feel any pain at the time, but you may feel some discomfort during the week following the surgery. This is usually due to having stitches in place, and the normal healing process.
How long does treatment take?
Your dentist will be able to give you a provisional timetable before the treatment begins. Usually the permanent teeth are fitted 3 to 5 months after the implants are placed.
How soon can I have the new teeth?
The implants need to bond (integrate) with the bone after they have been placed. This takes at least 3 months in the lower jaw and 5 months in the upper jaw. Sometimes the implants may be stable enough for the artificial teeth to be attached much sooner than this. If you are having one, two or three teeth replaced, you will have a temporary restoration in the meantime. If you have complete dentures, then these can be worn throughout the healing period once they have been modified after the surgery.
Can I take the teeth out if they are fixed to implants?
Most artificial teeth attached to implants can only be placed and removed by the dentist. However, if you have complete dentures fixed to the implants by bars or other attachments, then you'll be able to take them out for cleaning.
Do the implants show?
Your dentist will make sure that the implants won't show during all normal movements of the mouth and lips. You will need to be able to see them, so that you can clean them properly.
Do I have an implant for each missing tooth?
No, unless you're only having a single tooth replaced. Normally, five or six implants are used to replace all the teeth in one jaw, as each implant can usually support two teeth. For a few missing teeth, two or three implants may be used.
What happens if the implant does not bond (integrate) with the bone?
This happens very rarely. If the implant becomes loose during the healing period or just after, then it is easily removed and healing takes place in the normal way. Once the jaw has healed,the implant can sometimes be replaced. If not, the dentist can make a bridge, using the implants that have 'taken'.
Is dental implant treatment expensive?
In many situations, the cost of the treatment is only a little more than the cost of more conventional treatment with crowns and bridges. There are advantages to it, too. An implant to replace a single tooth avoids the need to cut down the teeth on either side of the missing tooth for crowns to support a bridge. Normal dentures often mean you can't eat or speak well, due to the dentures moving about. But teeth attached to implants eliminate this problem.
The oral and maxillofacial surgeon is ideally positioned by reason of training and experience to provide the surgical phase of implant treatment. His or her knowledge and skill will provide you with the most successful outcome. Together with your dentist, they will finalize the treatment plan and the staging of procedures.
Remember to ask exactly what treatment is proposed, what experience the dentist has in this work, the total cost of the treatment and what the alternatives are. If you are unhappy with any of the answers then do ask for a second opinion. You will be spending a lot of time, effort and money so you must be sure that you know what you are getting at the end of treatment.
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