What are Dental Implants?
Dental Implants are the closest thing to natural teeth. They can replace a single tooth, a few missing teeth, or even a whole of mouth of missing teeth. They are designed to look and function just like any of your other teeth.
Dental Implants are the current standard of care for replacing missing teeth. They are designed to be a permanent addition to your mouth, and restore the health, function, and balance to the complex system that is your teeth.
A Dental Implant is a medical-grade titanium screw that is surgically placed into your jawbone. This forms the foundation for custom-designed replacement teeth to be permanently fixed to the Dental Implant.
Dental Implants eliminate the discomfort, pressure and ulcers generally experienced with dentures. They are usually a better option than a bridge, which can compromise the long-term health of the teeth they are placed on.
A Dental Implant that is placed with care and precision, should give you the ability to eat, speak and get about life as usual, without being conscious of it being there. Most importantly, Dental Implants are designed to last you for life.
Who should I choose for Dental Implant treatment?
There is no such as thing as a Dental Implant Specialist. There are dentists who may have varying amounts of training in Dental Implants, which can be anywhere from no training, to a weekend course, to more intensive training.
There are also dental specialists who have instruction on Dental Implants within their specialist training, but there is no such recognised speciality for "Dental Implant Specialists".
When it comes to placing Dental Implants in simple situations, your dentist might be more than capable of doing this. It is when you are met with more challenging circumstances that a Surgical Specialist may be your best option.
A dually qualified Maxillofacial surgeon has degrees in both Medicine and Dentistry, as well as specialised training in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, which focuses on comprehensive management of the mouth, jaws and face..
This specialised medical and surgical training gives Maxillofacial surgeons the skill set to place Dental Implants in even the most challenging situations, and in the most medically complex of people.
A Maxillofacial specialist can rebuild areas of your jaw that have deteriorated because of disease, trauma, or just being without teeth for some time, and which gives your Dental Implants the best opportunity to succeed.
Do I need to get Bone Grafting?
If you have lost a tooth, especially if it has been gone awhile, the bone holding in your original tooth will usually disappear. To give you a Dental Implant that will last, we will usually rebuild the bone you have lost with Bone Grafting.
The Bone Grafting material is a natural bone substitute derived from the hard, mineral portion of bovine bone. It is produced by purifying and sterilising the bone to remove all the organic elements from it.
The crystals form a fine lattice mesh that encourage the bone-forming cells of your body to grow in and around them. Over time the cells will form new bone that has the same strength and functionality as any other bone in the body.
A Bone Graft can be placed at the time of having a Dental Implant put in, and sculpted around it to bulk out the surrounding bone. It can also be placed after having a tooth removed, to create bone for an Implant down the track.
We want your Dental Implants to last, which is why we like to use Bone Grafting. Bone Grafting gives your Dental Implant the best chance of success, and of becoming a permanently healthy and functional part of your mouth.
When might I need a Sinus Lift?
You might be looking at Dental Implants to replace any teeth you are missing at the top and back parts of your mouth.
The areas in the back of your upper jaw sit underneath large sinus spaces in your cheekbones. Your sinuses are great, big, empty spaces that surround the parts of your back teeth that hold them into your jawbone.
If you lose some of your back teeth, this sinus space can get bigger and bigger, causing the bone needed to hold your Implants to disappear. We can still treat you, but the process definitely becomes more technical.
So how does a Sinus Lift work? Think of your sinus as being an egg, it has a thin outside shell of bone, a mucous membrane that runs along the inside of the shell, and a large, relatively empty space inside.
We gently perforate the bone covering the sinus, making a window looking inside the sinus. We separate away the membrane lining the inside of the sinus, to create a space that is then filled with the Bone Graft material.
This is then sealed with your gum tissue, and the Bone Graft is left in place until it becomes dense, solid bone. In 4-6 months time, there should then be an abundance of healthy bone with which to place your Dental Implants.
What is the process of getting Dental Implants?
The process is generally made up of two phases. The first involves placing the Implant, which is a minor surgical procedure. The second part is producing your replacement teeth, which will be permanently fixed to your Implants.
So you've decided you are interested in Dental Implants, but want to know how to start the process. The first thing to do is make an appointment with your Dentist, who will assess whether are suitable for Dental Implants.
Your Dentist will write a referral for you to see our Surgical Specialist. The referral allows us to Bulk-Bill some aspects of your treatment through Medicare, such as x-rays, 3D scans, and some add-ons like Bone Grafting.
Our Specialist will go through all of your options, and you will be given estimates for their costs. If you want to move ahead with treatment, we can book an Implant planning session with 3D scans of your teeth and jawbones.
You can then be booked in for surgery, which you can have done in hospital under General Anaesthetic, or in our rooms under Local Anaesthetic. Recovery from this is usually short, with little in the way of discomfort or swelling.
We will review you over the following months, to make sure your Implant is healing well, and that your Implant is fusing with your jawbone. After 3 months, we will confirm that you have your replacement teeth placed by your Dentist.
Your Dentist will take impressions of your teeth and Dental Implants. This information is used to produce your permanent replacement teeth, which your Dentist will permanently insert into your Dental Implants.
And that's it! Unless you have any minor issues that require small adjustment, such as how your teeth bite together, you are free to get back to all of the things you enjoy, without any worry about missing teeth.
How long do Dental Implants last?
Dental Implants that have been properly placed and cared for, are designed to last you for life. The surgical placement of your Implant needs to be done in such a way, that it is placed accurately within a good amount of healthy bone.
All Implants will lose a small amount of bone around them over your lifetime. Positioning them at the proper depth within your jaw, will keep them protected from the loss of this bone, so they will continue to perform well long-term.
If there is not enough healthy bone where you are wanting to have Dental Implants, this can be overcome with Bone Grafting. This does add a little to the cost, but does a lot to help maximise the success of your Dental Implants.
Your oral and overall health are also important. Keeping your teeth and gums clean creates a healthy environment for your Dental Implants. This involves proper brushing and flossing, as well as regular check-ups with your dentist.
Are Dental Implants expensive?
It depends on how you look at things. Getting by with a few less teeth may cost you less money to begin with, but the more teeth you lose, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to replace them.
Dental Implants are an investment in your quality of life, your appearance and your health. They don't decay, get toothaches, or experience gum disease, and cost you less in the long run than regular restorative dental treatment.
You may at first feel like Implants are more expensive when looking at other options for treatment. While in some ways this is true, Implants are a permanent solution compared to shorter-term alternatives like dentures.
Dental implants are a greater initial investment, but one that is designed to last. If an Implant is properly placed by us, and cared for by you, than you can expect it to last for a lifetime.
As far as cost goes, every person is different and has their own individual needs. After your consultation with us, we can determine exactly what your needs are, and provide you with all of your treatment options.
What happens if I don't replace my missing teeth?
At first it might not seem like a big deal to lose some of your teeth. It will usually take a bit of time for you to appreciate the the value of the teeth that were taken out.
When you lose a tooth, the teeth around it begin to collapse into the newly created space. It becomes increasingly difficult to clean them, and you are more likely to get gum problems or decay that leads to the loss of these teeth.
As more of your teeth disappear, your chewing forces are spread over fewer and fewer teeth, making them more likely to break. Losing teeth becomes like a snowball rolling down a mountain, increasing in size and picking up speed.
At this point, you are at a fork in the road. If you go down the path of taking out a tooth and forgetting about, you will likely face the situation of losing more teeth further in the future.
Choosing to replace the missing tooth can stop the chain reaction before it can start. This is the simplest and most cost-effective solution long-term, and gives you the best chance of keeping your teeth healthy and functional.
‘Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.’