How you will know if you are suitable for implants?
At your initial consultation the dentist will assess the feasibility of providing implant treatment. You will be expected to answer detailed questions concerning your medical history and there will be a complete examination of your mouth and remaining teeth to discover the nature and extent of any current dental problems. Usually x-rays will be taken and models of the teeth prepared so that these can be examined after your visit.
These x-rays and models will be used to determine the optimal position for an implant, how many implants can be placed in the gap and the quality and volume of the bone that is available.
Establishing good basic dental health is a key stage in any treatment plan. At this first appointment you should be made aware of which problems are urgent, and what treatment is required to stablise any gum-or tooth-related problems. It would be reasonable to expect a verbal outline of how your particular implant treatment might be approached.
Do you need to have a healthy mouth?
When you first enquire about dental implants it is often in response to awareness of ongoing dental problems or the recent loss of teeth. The cause of these problems will need to be understood and treated before undertaking implant treatment. If you are aware of bad breath, loose teeth, or have noticed excessive bleeding, particularly when your teeth are cleaned professionally, you may have gum problems. Gum disease (periodontal disease) is a major cause of bone loss, and with reduced bone dental implant treatment can be more complicated but not impossible.
Well-maintained implants placed into adequate bone can be expected to last for many years and possibly for your lifetime. However, just as you would expect conventional crowns, bridges and flings to need occasional repairs or replacements, your implant-supported teeth may also have similar maintenance requirements over the years.
What should you know before you start treatment?
It is accepted practice that you should be given a written summary of your treatment planning discussion(s), highlighting your current dental situation and any alternatives there are to dental implants. This summary should also include an overview of the anticipated treatment stages and give you some idea of how long treatment is likely to take, how many implants are required and what the fees are expected to be. There may well be other issues specific to your case and these would be dealt with accordingly.
How many teeth can be supported by implants?
Dental implants can be used to replace one or several missing teeth. All the common forms of tooth replacement, such as bridges or dentures can be supported by dental implants.
If you are missing just one natural tooth, then one implant is normally all that will be needed to provide a replacement. However, larger spaces created by two, three or more missing teeth do not necessarily need one implant per tooth; the exact number of implants will depend upon the quality and volume of bone at each potential implant site.
Patients who have a habit of clenching or grinding (bruxing) their teeth may be at risk of overloading their implants. For most people bruxism occurs during sleep, which is why they are generally not aware of it. Heavily worn or fattened teeth, chipped enamel edges and/or regularly breaking pieces of heavily filed teeth are the most common clinical signs of bruxism. The effects of bruxism need to be considered during treatment planning and can be compensated for by placing additional implants, selecting appropriate restorative materials and providing a night time bite guard to protect the new teeth. This will be discussed in your initial consultation and detailed in your treatment plan.