What are implants? Implants are precision manufactured threaded posts that are placed into the jawbone and which integrate into the tissue to for an incredibly secure base for crowns, bridges and fixed dentures. Titanium implants are grey in colour and can sometimes be noticed through the gum. The surface of an implant may be acid etched or sandblasted to speed up the osseointegration process.

Zirconium implants: Zirconia implants are one of the latest type of implants and are promoted for their aesthetic qualities and biocompatibility. Zirconia implants appear to osseointegrate as well as titanium implants. They are white and have an obvious aesthetic advantage in that they are indistinguishable from natural teeth.

Can anyone have implants & do they hurt? With modern techniques, even patients with reduced bone density and low sinus cavities can now have implants. Bone reconstruction and sinus lifts allow patients with these issues to be treated, and Guided Surgery techniques and CT scans can even eliminate the need for this complex surgery, by allowing the implantologist the opportunity to place implants in the optimum position, avoiding sinus cavities and nerve canals. Most patients comment that even the day after insertion they didn’t even notice that the implants were there. There should be no more discomfort that having an extraction, and medication is provided in case a patient does feel some discomfort afterward. Aesthetic appearance is taken care of with temporary prostheses.

Are the implanted teeth difficult to clean? Cleaning in the region of implant placement should be avoided for a few weeks after placement; thereafter cleaning around the teeth attached to the implants is no more difficult than cleaning natural teeth. You need to care for implanted teeth as you would for natural teeth. You should keep them clean, and as with natural teeth smoking is discouraged. Some implantologists refuse to treat smokers.

Dental Implant Problems: A small percentage of implants are rejected by the body’s immune system. The average implant rejection rate worldwide is 4%. With improving techniques and careful placement the implant rejection rates are falling. In the case that a patient’s body rejects an implant there are clinical remedies that can be used to overcome an implant rejection, and the technology continues to improve.

How long does the treatment take to complete? Implant procedures usually require 3 visits and up to a maximum of 5 visits. The first appointment would be the consultation, which would take around 45 minutes and include a CT scan to determine your suitability for Implants. Often implant placement can be done on the consultation visit, thus reducing the number of visits required. If some preparatory work is needed on the consultation visit; providing no other procedures are required; the second appointment would be to place the implant(s), this would take around 1 to 2 hours, there would then be a period of 5 to 7 months to allow the implant(s) to heal and fully integrate into the bone tissue. The next appointment would be to have the abutment(s) fitted and the impressions taken for permanent crowns or bridges to be made in a laboratory. The overall treatment time should not exceed 8 months.

If the bone depth and density is sufficient an implant can be placed immediately following an extraction, but it should not be loaded (used as a normal tooth) until bone integration has taken place. A CT scan will allow the implantologist to assess this in advance, and a special prosthesis can be made or an existing denture can be modified.

Are there occasions when this is not possible? Yes, implants sometimes can’t be placed immediately after extraction and time is required for the gums and bone to grow back and fill the space left after the extraction. This takes at least 3 to 4 months in the lower jaw and 5 to 7 months in the upper jaw, which is less dense. A temporary prosthesis will be made for use in the meantime. If you already wear dentures, these can be modified or adjusted so that you can wear them throughout the bone integration period. A CT scan will reveal which method is best.

Is an implant needed for each missing tooth? No. Normally, four to six implants are used to replace all the teeth in one jaw, as each implant can usually support two or three teeth.

Why do I need a consultation, and what does it involve? The initial consultation determines whether you are a suitable candidate for implants. Some patients are not suitable due to reduced bone depth, width and density, or that the sinus cavity is too low. The implantologist will then discuss with you all the available treatment options and this will be followed by a written treatment plan, with all the charges explained.

Is a CT scan required before I can have implants? A CT scan is the perfect diagnostic system to determine a patient’s suitability for implants, and gives a 3D computed tomography (CT) image of the lower part of the skull. From this image the exact bone depth, width, density and condition can be assessed, and the exact position of the sinus cavity and nerve canal charted. The risk to the patient is virtually eliminated. Sinus Lifts are expensive, but often these can often be avoided with the information obtained from a CT scan, that allows implants to be inserted at an angle. Short, wider implants are now available to overcome the need for many Sinus Lifts.

What is the most accurate and safest method? The best method is to have a CT scan, which gives a 3D image for more precise forward planning and for making an accurate surgical guide. The risk of drilling too deep or not at the precise angle is eliminated. The depth, thickness and density of the jaw bone can be measured accurately with a CT scanner, and can show whether bone grafting is needed.

What are the advantages of having a CT scan? The accuracy of a CT scan is the main advantage and allows an implant surgeon to pre-plan and have a surgical guide made in advance for precise depth and angle of drilling to be achieved. Time can be saved and the number of visits can be reduced.

Can implants be placed without a CT scan? A panoramic x-ray can’t measure bone depth with the same degree of accuracy as a CT scanner, nor can it measure bone thickness or density. A CT scan eliminates any guesswork, thereby reducing the risk to the patient.

What do CT scans cost? These vary considerably but average around £300

What are the usual UK prices? The average cost of a completed implant in the UK is now about £2,500

What is guided surgery? This is a process whereby following a Diagnostic CT Scan to assess a Patient’s Oral Condition a Radiological Template is produced, and another scan is then taken with the Radiological Template in place. The digital data obtained is then sent to a specialist laboratory and a Surgical Drilling Guide is produced. This allows for pinpoint accuracy when placing Implants, especially multiple implants and implants for multiple bridgework, and any possible risk is virtually eliminated.

Why would I need guided surgery? If single implants are required you probably won’t require guided surgery. If you require multiple implants or implants for multiple bridges or implant retained dentures it is generally preferred. CT scans can reveal bone loss, proximity to nerve canals and low sinus cavities, in far more detail that a Panoral x-ray (also known as an OPG or a Panoramic x-ray). Surgical Drilling Guides ensure that implants are placed accurately to avoid any problem areas. Without a CT scan an accurate assessment cannot be made, and at times by using the results of a Panoramic X-Ray alone, expensive bone restoration and sinus lifts are often performed unnecessarily. With a CT scan, patients who might not have been able to have implants, due to inaccurate diagnosis, will be able to.

Is guided surgery expensive? Not when compared to the potential cost of bone restoration or sinus lifts. It could mean the difference between an implant being rejected by a bad insertion, or it lasting over 15 years. Spread over several implants, it is very cost and time effective, and as mentioned before is a much a safer method. CT scanning can in many cases eliminate the need to use a surgical guide.