A dental implant (also known as an endosseous implant or fixture) is a surgical component that interfaces with the bone of the jaw or skull to support a dental prosthesis. This includes usage in crowns, bridges, dentures, facial prosthesis or to act as an orthodontic anchor. The basis for modern dental implants is a biologic process called osseointegration where materials, such as titanium, form an intimate bond to bone. The implant fixture is first placed so that it is likely to osseointegrate, then a dental prosthetic is added. A variable amount of healing time is required for osseointegration before either the dental prosthetic (a tooth, bridge or denture) is attached to the implant, or an abutment is placed which will hold a dental prosthetic.
Success or failure of implants depends on the health of the person receiving it, drugs which impact the chances of osseointegration and the health of the tissues in the mouth. The amount of stress that will be put on the implant and fixture during normal function is also evaluated. The position of implants is determined by the position and angle of adjacent teeth, lab simulations or by using computed tomography with CAD/CAM simulations and surgical guides called stents. The prerequisites to the long-term success of osseointegrated dental implants are healthy bone and gingiva. Since both can atrophy after tooth extraction pre-prosthetic procedures, such as sinus lifts or gingival grafts, are sometimes required to recreate ideal bone and gingiva.
The final prosthetic can be either fixed, where a person cannot remove the denture or teeth from their mouth or removable, where they can remove the prosthetic. In each case, an abutment is attached to the implant fixture. Where the prosthetic is fixed, the crown, bridge or denture is fixed to the abutment with either lag-screws or cement. Where the prosthetic is removable, a corresponding adapter is placed in the prosthetic so that the two pieces can be secured together.
Replacing a Single Tooth
A single tooth can be replaced with an implant and a crown.
Replacing Several Teeth
Several teeth can be replaced with implant-supported bridges.
Replacing All of Your Teeth
All of your teeth can be replaced with an implant-supported full bridge or full denture.
At Corné Smith Dentistry we work with implant specialists; that have extensive experience in Implantology. All implant cases are done with a multidisciplinary approach, ensuring the best possible outcome for the patient.
Different Implant Systems
Several implant systems are available worldwide, and we work with only the most predictable and scientifically proven systems. The systems we use are:
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
If you have lost a tooth or several teeth, you are a candidate for implants. The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and the best candidates have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease.
How does the process work?
This procedure is a team effort between you, your dentist and your periodontist. Your periodontist and dentist will consult with you to determine where and how your implant should be placed. Depending on your specific condition and the type of implant chosen, the team will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.
The implant procedure can be summarised in 5 steps:
Correct diagnosis is a step that cannot be emphasized enough. We will take several x-rays, study models and sometimes a cone beam 3D scan of your jaw to determine the health of the bone and underlying tissues.
The implant is inserted under local anaesthesia, conscious sedation or in theatre. A Temporary restoration may be used in the front of your mouth to ensure a natural looking smile.
After approximately one week, the stitches are removed. The healing phase will last between six weeks and a few months, depending on the medical situation. During this time, diligent oral hygiene is vital.
After the healing is complete and the implant is integrated, an impression is taken for the crown, which is then manufactured by the dental laboratory. In areas where more than one tooth is replaced, a bridge or denture is then manufactured.
Implants require special care afterwards, and regular cleanings from an oral hygienist. Cleaning visits should be scheduled every six months, and on these visits, the hygienist will give further instructions on cleaning. Also, see our section on cleaning implants.
Risks & Complications
The risks and complications related to implant therapy are divided into those that occur during surgery (such as excessive bleeding or nerve injury), those that occur in the first six months (such as infection and failure to osseointegrate) and those that occur long-term (such as peri-implantitis and mechanical failures). In the presence of healthy tissues, a well-integrated implant with appropriate biomechanical loads can have long-term success rates of 93 to 98 percent for the fixture and 10 to 15-year lifespans for the prosthetic teeth.