What is a dental implant?

It is a titanium screw that is inserted into the bone as a replacement for the root of a lost tooth. The bone heals and bonds to the implant in a process called osseointegration. Once integrated, the implant can be used to hold crowns, bridges and dentures in place.

When the implant is used to replace a single missing tooth, two parts are connected to the implant – the abutment and the crown. The abutment is a custom-made connecting post that will join the crown to the implant. The whole procedure is known as an implant supported crown.

Why use an implant to replace a tooth?

A dental implant is used when the tooth is no longer viable and cannot be used to hold a filling or crown.

What are the advantages of having a dental implant?

The implant is in some ways a fresh start. The crown will be put on a new structure in your mouth that has not been subjected to decades of use and, in some cases, trauma. The implant supported crown process also does not require major modifications to the other teeth such a dental bridge requires.

When the implant supported crown requires maintenance it is simply unscrewed, modified and then reattached.

Before Treatment
After Treatment
Photos are for educational purposes only
When are dental implants not recommended?

Implants are not recommended when there is insufficient bone to safely place the implant. There are some situations where a bone graft may be performed to allow the implant to be placed and your specialist will recommend this proceed if this is necessary in your case.
Individuals who have poor healing (smokers and uncontrolled diabetics), those taking some cancer or osteoporosis medications also experience a high failure rate with dental implants. Always discuss your current medications with your specialist who will advise you accordingly.
Dental implants are also not recommended to younger patients who are still growing.

How long do dental implants last?

Implant supported dental crowns have been used to replace single teeth since the late 1980’s. Studies indicate most implants are still working after 30 years, and the abutment and crown is typically replaced after 12-15 years (like that of a traditional crown).

What types of implant crowns are there?

Crowns are either tooth coloured with ceramic layers on the surface or non-tooth coloured which are made of metal.

How do I choose which type of crown to have?

The choice is largely dependent on how life-like you want your crown to look and how much stress the crown will be under.

How do I care for my implant?

Implant with crowns must be cleaned by brushing and flossing every day.
Typically, a periodic tightening of the abutment screw is required every few years and it is recommended that your implant is checked as part of your routine dental check-up usually every 6-12 months where it will be assessed by x-ray to ensure the area is healthy.

How many visits does it take to have an implant crown?

It takes several visits to complete the process:
1. Consultation to determine an appropriate treatment plan
2. Tooth removal and placement of dental implant
3. Testing of implant
4. Impression of the implant and surrounding teeth
5. Insertion of the abutment and crown
6. Review after 1 month
The process usually takes 3 – 4 months. With bone grafting or custom colour, extra time may be needed. We do not perform the treatment for convenience but rather for the best possible outcome and find a measured and well-planned approach is always the most successful.

What is the difference between a tooth and an implant supported crown?

As good as a dental implant is, it is not the same as your own tooth. The overall shape is different to a tooth. Food debris and plaque will collect in different areas than your regular teeth necessitating new habits. While a crown will look like a tooth, the gum around the implant can be a subtly different shape and colour. The feel when biting down an implant crown is also different than on a natural tooth. Some patients describe this as a wooden or dull feeling.

Are all implants the same?

There is no one universal dental implant that is best for all situations. We tend to select the implant to be used from one of the 4 major global manufacturers of dental implants. The reasons for this are:
* we have a range of options to choose the best implant for your unique situation
* that there is ample independent research to show that the implants work predictably
* that these companies are well established so parts will be available for a long period of time
* parts are also available worldwide kin case you relocate to another country
These companies’ products can be more expensive however peace of mind is worth it.

What can go wrong in the process?

Failure of the bone to integrate with the implant is the most significant complication. This occurs in < 1% of cases for healthy patients.

Other things I need to know

Over time teeth change. Implants however are anchored to the bone and will not change position. Teeth will gradually shift position around the implant crown. If the difference is noticeable, the abutment/crown may need to be replaced.

Pain after an implant is placed is surprisingly low, less than a tooth extraction.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with any treatment, you may consider seeking a second opinion from an appropriate qualified health practitioner

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with any treatment you may consider seeking a second opinion from an appropriate qualified health practitioner