Dr Lance West - Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
Dental implants are titanium screws which can be used to support and retain prosthetic replacements for missing teeth.
Surgery to place an implant is carried out through an incision in the gum. A hole is drilled in the bone prior to insertion of the implant. Depending on the density and quantity of bone, it may be possible to have an implant abutment protruding through the gum at the end of surgery, in which case further surgery to uncover the implant is not necessary (this is known as single stage surgery). Alternatively the implant can be buried for several months and uncovered with attachment of an abutment at a second surgery (this is known as two stage surgery).
Following installation the surrounding bone fuses (integrates) with the implant surface and the implant becomes very stable in the bone. It can then be loaded with crowns, bridges or dentures.
In some cases there is insufficient bone to be able to place dental implants. In many of these cases it is possible to replace missing bone with bone grafting techniques, often harvested from the lower jaw.
The success rate of dental implants, while high, is not 100%. Ongoing follow up and monitoring of implants after treatment is required.