What is a dental implant?
The dental implant procedure varies slightly, depending on which type of dental implant you opt for, how many teeth need to be replaced and the condition of your gums and jawbone. Generally, though, most dentists tend to use Root Form Implants as these have the highest success rates.
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The dental implant procedure can encompass one of two processes – single-stage or dual-stage. The former technique, called ‘immediate loading,’ involves one or more implant/s being placed on the same day as damaged or broken teeth are removed and a bone graft is performed.
The second technique, known as ‘delayed loading’, is the most commonly-practised, however, as it reduces the risk of implant rejection or failure and is often cheaper to perform than same-day implants.
All implant procedures begin with a preliminary consultation. At this appointment, an x-ray or digital diagnostic image is taken of your mouth to ascertain the position of each tooth, and to look for signs of any pathology that might affect the success of an implant’s, such as the density of your jawbone.
After this, your dentist will outline his proposed treatment schedule for you to consider. He may recommend a preliminary procedure such as a bone graft or sinus lift to maximise the chances of a successful treatment.
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Preliminary Procedures – Bone Grafts and Sinus Lifts
As we age, our jaws can shrink and become thin. Bone loss can affect the integrity of an implant, causing it to fail. It may, therefore, be necessary to perform a bone graft to strengthen the jawbone and make it dense enough to be able to hold an implant firmly in position.
A bone graft involves making a small incision in the gums near the empty tooth cavity and introducing some living bone from a suitable source to encourage the jaw to thicken. Find out more about dental implants.
Suitable bone can come from a number of sources – either from another part of your body, such as your hip or chin (autogenous) or by obtaining it from a secondary source. This can be human (via a bone bank), animal (usually bovine) or synthetic (calcium phosphate).
If you have suffered significant bone loss in the back portion of your upper jaw, you may also need a sinus lift. This involves propping up the sinus floor where it has collapsed into the empty tooth cavity using bone augmentation techniques.
Afterwards, there usually needs to be a waiting period before finally fitting the implant to allow time for healing and to make sure that the bone graft has ‘taken’.