Dental implant treatment is often performed with a team. The team consists of a restorative dentist who will ultimately fabricate the prosthesis or teeth that are to be replaced; and an experienced surgeon who will place the dental implants in the jaw bone. Careful evaluation of the patient and meticulous planning is essential in providing predictable and satisfactory results.
Osseointegrated (bone fusing) Dental Implants are internationally accepted as one of the best means by which lost or missing teeth are replaced for the long term when they are provided by experienced clinicians in this special field. They are surgically placed in the jaws and left for a period of at least four to six months to heal or “osseointegrate”, after which time they are exposed at a second stage and progressively loaded with the final crown and bridgework as with conventional treatment.
The treatment consists of 3 phases.
The first phase of treatment is the placement of the implant (the root shaped, titanium screw that is commonly referred to as the ‘fixture’) by the surgical specialist. The second phase of the implant treatment is performed after an appropriate period of healing. Bone heals slowly. A period of approximately 3-6 months is required for the process of osseointegration to be complete.
The second phase of treatment consists of the placement of abutments or small metal posts to the implanted fixtures. This may require a second surgical procedure depending if removal of gum over the implant is required.
The third phase of treatment consists of the restorative phase. In this phase an impression of the abutment is taken and the new replacement teeth are fabricated and placed on the implants and abutments. These can be a crown, bridge, denture (fixed or removeable).
The cost of a dental implant is generally divided into 2 fees. First the surgical cost of placing the implant and second the restorative cost of manufacturing a crown (superstructure) to fit onto the implant. An approximate idea of Implant fees:
Implant (surgical component) $2,796 – $3300
Implant, single tooth – superstructure $2,504 – $3500
The options utilizing dental implants are the best possible means of restoring your teeth as the end result will offer the best cosmetics together with function as natural teeth. Also of value is that the dental implants stress the bony tissue in function and can reduce and sometimes stop the bone resorption process which causes the shrinkage of the jaw bone.
Whenever implants or surgery is performed there is always a risk of sensory change in the region of surgery and paraesthesia which is a temporary or permanent numbness in the soft tissues of the region can occur. Normality generally will return within a few days but in difficult cases maybe months. Permanent complications are rare and the risk is considered to be about 1%.
When bone defects exist in potential dental implant sites they must be corrected otherwise the success and longevity of the dental implant will be compromised. Bone grafting is the process of correcting bone defects and deficiencies in the maxilla (upper jaw) and mandible (lower jaw) utilizing various types of grafting materials which may be autogenous, allograft, xenograft, alloplast and or a combination of these. Autogenous bone is derived from the patients own bone reserves, either from the hip or other intra-oral sites (jaws), and sometimes from the tibia. Allograft is bone from another of the same species that has undergone sterilisation processes at standards recommended by the American Association of Tissue Banks for safe use. Xenograft used here has antigenic properties removed, some by calcination at extremely high temperatures that leave only the mineral matrix for use. Alloplast is an artificial bone substitute that can be incorporated into the patients bone tissues and often has mineral structures similar to human bone. As with all surgery complications can arise such as infection, slow healing and loss of graft but these are minimised and if they occur can be medically controlled and corrected by good surgical technique.
Patients undergoing this special treatment do not suffer from severe after pain, patients can expect soft tissue bruising, and swelling in the affected area of surgery, and generally a mild discomfort from low level pain for a few days following surgery.
Only estimated times are given because of the complexity of this type of rehabilitation, it is not possible to give definitive timetables as to completion of treatments. However as a guide, implant treatment without bone graft techniques can be completed between 2 and 6 months.
Dental implant treatment has been shown to have a high success rate over a 30 year period, but due to the complex nature of implant therapy, bone structures and individual variations in physiology and anatomy, no guarantees can be made for the treatment offered. However, if implants fail to “osseointegrate”, then they can be removed easily and in most cases the bone can be regenerated so that a new implant can be placed again. A lot of the time the surgeon will not charge for this. Structural failures of the crown or bridgework is rare and often replaced free of cost should this occur within 12 months of completion. Guarantees will need to be discussed with your surgeon and or dentist.
It is documented that regular habits of smoking and heavy intake of alcohol does impair general bone health and in particular are highly correlated with failures and or complications in implant treatment. High standards of personal and professional oral hygiene is also essential to ensure they are successful for the long term. Regular hygienist visits are required to help prevent gum inflammation and bone loss around the implant.