Dental Implants

Dental implants are a reliable and durable way to replace a missing tooth long-term.

Dental implants are arguably the superior and most reliable way to replace a missing tooth, or to stabilise a denture, as they look, feel and function exactly like your original tooth. Many patients even forget there once was a gap where the implant now sits!

What are Dental implants?

Dental implants are small, yet strong, fixed titanium screws which are surgically inserted into the jawbone to replace the roots of missing teeth. The implants then creates a strong structure for the artificial tooth to attach to. This makes Dental implants therapy long-lasting and extremely durable. To make a dental implant look a little less like a titanium screw and more like a natural tooth, your prosthodontist will build a dental prosthesis to cover it – from a single-tooth porcelain or ceramic crown, through to a full set of teeth on multiple implants. The latter may incorporate pink and white acrylic portions to mimic the teeth and gums.

Do I need a dental implant?

At your consultation, your prosthodontist will determine the best course of action for you. You may be recommended a dental implant if you have:

Bone atrophy:

When you lose a tooth, the part of the jaw bone which is usually stimulated by the everyday pressures of the tooth through the tooth’s root can begin to deteriorate. Like your muscles, if your jaw bone isn’t used or stimulated, it can begin to atrophy and wear away. This can lead to a sunken, aged appearance in the face and jaw.

Unstable teeth:

Your teeth are kept stable and in position by the teeth around them. When a tooth is missing, it can cause the adjacent teeth to become unstable, slant or to shift position. This can not only affect the appearance of your smile, but also its functionality in terms of chewing, talking and eating.

Unstable dentures:

Some of the complaints about dentures is that they can become loose or unstable at unexpected, awkward or inconvenient times. Stabilising and securing a full denture using dental implants can not only hold the denture in place and give you peace of mind, it can also make it easier to speak and chew.

A decayed tooth which cannot be fixed by a root canal:

A root canal treatment is usually required when the root of a tooth is damaged or decayed. Sometimes, the extent of the damage may be significant enough that root canal treatment will not suffice to save the tooth. Your prosthodontist may then recommend an implant instead, to maintain the integrity of your jaw and to restore health and functionality to the area.

What is the dental implant process?

We treat every patient as an individual, not just a number, so every treatment plan is personalised and varied. A dental implant procedure has five ‘phases’ and each are as important as the last:

  • Consultation and assessment – In your initial consultation, you will meet with your prosthodontist and your mouth will be assessed, to determine the best course of action for your case.
  • Treatment planning – Your ultimate treatment result can only be as good as the plan to achieve it. At Dr Chris Hart Prosthodontist, we consider planning to be a critical part of the process. Working closely with our surgical team and laboratory technicians, we strive to ensure we achieve the right result, in the right sequence, at the right cost.
  • Surgical – Often, dental implants can be inserted into the bone on the day your teeth are extracted (if necessary). If this isn’t possible, there will be a period of healing before the implants are placed. When teeth are removed, the bone remodels itself and this may mean additional augmentation of bone and/or gum tissue is required. The surgical part of the process can be a nerve-wracking time for some patients, but our friendly team will ensure your comfort.
  • Restorative – During this phase, the prosthesis (usually a porcelain or ceramic crown) is attached to the implant. After the implant has successfully and healthily integrated with the bone (usually 3-6 months after the implant is placed), you will receive your new teeth. You will not be without a tooth during the healing process. You will usually be provided with a temporary replacement.  The colour, shape and size of your replacement tooth is completely customised; both you and your prosthodontist will work together to decide on the most desirable look for your mouth. Our promise is a result you are one hundred percent happy with.
  • Maintenance – After an implant is successfully placed, maintenance will be the key to keeping it healthy. An implant with visible plaque/bacteria coating is more likely to encounter problems. Dental implants require daily care and professional visits one to two times a year over your lifetime.

What are implant teeth made from?

Implant teeth are made from various materials depending on the size and demands of each patient. Generally for single teeth, they are made from porcelain ceramic. However, for larger spans of teeth, a metal frame with pink and white acrylic portions to mimic the teeth and gums, or a high-strength ceramic or metal frame with porcelain teeth is used.

 

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How do dentures attached to implants work?

We provide a wide range of customized solutions. In general, we call them “removable” or “fixed” dentures depending on whether you routinely take them out to clean or the dentist must remove them periodically for professional care. In general, fixed dentures tend to be more costly, but allow greater comfort and ability to chew like natural teeth. Removable dentures are more cost effective and easy to keep clean, but can sustain less chewing force. Both are very good options and offer vast improvements over failing teeth or traditional dentures that sit on the gums.

 

How long does the entire treatment process take?

It’s important to know that implants are not an immediate solution to tooth loss. From planning to the time the restorative phase is usually a few months, this allows maximum integration of the implant to the bone and less chance of implant failure. However, we are able to arrange an immediate temporary replacement of your teeth during the healing time so you will not be without teeth.

 

What are the risks of getting a dental implant?

Dental implants are a relatively minor procedure and a prosthodontist specialises in such procedures; they are the most qualified and practiced. As with all medical procedures, dental implants carry some risks, albeit small ones. About 1-2% of all implants do not take to the bone, meaning they will need to be removed and replaced. Your prosthodontist will be able to assist you in the unlikely event of a complication.

If a missing tooth is causing your problems, or you just want to find out more, please contact our friendly team on: 03 9663 5264.

Dr Christopher Hart Prosthodontist provides dental implants in Melbourne. Specialist prosthodontist for dental implant treatment in Bendigo and Darwin by appointment.