Dental implants are titanium screws that are placed in the jaw to replace the tooth roots. A special screw or healing cap is screwed in the implant to prevent the gum growing into it. The implant is placed as a surgical procedure in the dental surgery under sterile conditions. After a period of 2-3 months, the implant is tested. If the implant is not sore and does not move, it has osseointegrated. (integrated with the bone) The patient can return to the restorative dentist to have impressions taken so the final crown can be made and attached to the implant with either a screw or cement.
Dental implants have a very good success rate (over 90%). However, a small number do not osseointegrate and have to be replaced. Occasionally, bone may resorb around the implant (peri-implantitis). Patients with peridontitis, smokers and diabetics are at a higher risk of developing peri-implantitis.
Patients come for a consultation visit prior to having a dental implant placed. Some patients are not suitable to have dental implants due to their medical condition or medication they are taking. Also, there may be insufficient bone height or width to place the implant or have active periodontitis or tooth decay around their other teeth.
If the patient is medically and dentally fit to have a dental implant, they will be referred for a special scan which accurately assesses the bone available to place the implant.