Q: What is the benefit of a dental implant?
A: In the past, the only alternatives to replace a natural tooth were either a bridge or a denture. A denture is a replacement tooth or teeth that is removable and a bridge is a false tooth fixed to teeth on either side. These alternatives are sometimes a poor solution and can have complications, so on the whole, we can safely say that a dental implant is the gold standard.
Q: Are there any problems in having dental implants?
A: As in any medical or dental procedure there are always some risk factors. In a non smoker, there is approximately a 1.5% chance of the implant failing. i.e.: the implant failing to integrate with living bone and having to be replaced. The odds of an implant failing in smokers’ increases dramatically and there are studies that indicate that the failure rate here may be as high as 20%.
Gum disease may erode bone leaving little to place the implant in. Where does the bone go following the removal of the natural tooth? Nature is an economist and over time the bone that had supported the tooth is resorbed and as a result there is less bone remaining.
The other problem can of course be that the patient is very nervous about having the procedure done.
Q: What are the solutions to these problems?
A: it’s possible to build more bone: this is achieved with a grafting technique. At Fresh Dental Care we use a blood grafting technique called ‘Plasma Rich in Growth Factors’ in which we use a patient’s blood to safely form a gel which is placed in conjunction with the implant. On healing this produces more bone to secure the implant and works extremely well.
With regard to patients who are very nervous, in our experience, all problems exist in the absence of a good conversation.
We sit down with our patients and spend time explaining the treatment that is being considered so our patients can grow in confidence as they understand the process and that we will do to a high standard and very gently.
Q: Can anything go wrong afterwards?
A: It’s important to regularly examine the implant to check for any evidence of gum disease as dental implants can suffer from this, as can natural teeth. If this is the case, they can be cleaned professionally and the patient given more detailed advice in a more effective way of keeping plaque at bay and preventing the gum disease worsening.