Dental Implants

Dental Implants are a highly successful method of replacing missing teeth or keeping dentures in place.

What is an Implant?

An implant is a titanium screw which is placed into the jawbone.

The bone grows around the implant which gradually becomes attached to the bone. This is called OSSEOINTEGRATION.

The implant then acts as an anchor (in the same way as a normal root) for the visible part of your restoration. Implants can be used in a wide variety of situations from replacing a single missing tooth, providing support and retention for a denture to replacing all of your teeth.

What are the benefits?

With an implant your new teeth are firmly anchored to your bone meaning that you can talk, laugh and smile without worrying. This also means that you are able to eat whatever you like without any problems. As implants act as roots for the overlying structure, they retain existing bone and so enforce the material appearance of the face and teeth.

Who are implants suitable for?

Implants are suitable for most people over the age of 16 missing one or more teeth and have been used successfully in adults of all ages, including the elderly. Implants are not suitable for people under 16 as their jaws have not yet finished developing.

What is involved?

There are two main stages in implant treatment. The surgical stage and the prosthetic stage.

The surgical stage involves placement of the implant/implants into the jawbone. This is normally performed under local anaesthetic or a combination of local anaesthetic and intravenous sedation. There is no major discomfort after the operation.

The gum is closed over the implant which is then left for a period of 3-6 months to allow healing (osseointegration) to occur. The length of time required for healing depends on whether the fixture is placed in the upper or lower jaw as well as the quality of the bone. During this healing phase you continue to wear a temporary bridge, or your existing full or partial denture. There are some promising studies currently underway looking at eliminating this healing period when implants are used to support full lower dentures.

Once the fixture/fixtures have osseointegrated a second operation is performed. The implants are uncovered and extensions, known as abutments, are attached. These abutments pass through the gum and your crown/bridge or attachments for dentures are attached.

The prosthetic stage begins approximately 2 weeks after the implants are uncovered. Impressions are recorded, and the overlying Crown/ Bridge or denture is made from this impression. You will now have permanent teeth again. However, you must care for and check your implants regularly in the same way as you would for your natural teeth.

How successful is implant treatment?

Implants treatment is very successful. Long term studies show that 95-99% of complete bridges (when all teeth are replaced by implants) placed continue to function well for many years. Success rates are even higher for single implants.

Implants are more reliable than your own natural teeth. It is important to remember that if you have implants placed to replace missing natural teeth, and subsequently loose more of your natural teeth, you can use the implant already in your jaw (along with new fixtures if required) to anchor a new overlying bridge or denture.

Mini Dental Implants

Mini Dental Implants are a long term solution for loose dentures and more affordable than conventional implants.

Dr. Fiona van Heerden explains Mini Dental Implants

The long-term solution for loose dentures - Mini Dental Implants

MDI is a 5-step technique compared to customary 30-step procedures for conventional implant placements and restorations.

  • MDI implants are placed via very basic protocol.
  • MDI's can be used as temporary or long term-fixtures.
  • Extremely well tolerated, efficient and timely procedure for the patient.
  • Dentist and patient benefit by cost savings.
  • An excellent service that can be delivered at a reasonable cost.
  • Small diameter (1.8mm) implants requiring a 5-step procedure.
  • Ideal for those eligible patients who cannot afford a full-sized implant system.
  • MDI implants can be loaded immediately after placement.

Mini Dental implants, also known as the MDI, are ultra-small biocompatible titanium alloy implant screws. The MDI consists of a miniature 1.8mm titanium/alloy implant that acts like the root of a tooth and a retaining fixture containing an o-ring that is incorporated into the base of a patient’s denture. The head of the implant is shaped like a ball and the retaining fixture acts like a socket. The o-ring snaps over the ball when the denture is seated and holds the denture at a predetermined level of force. When seated, the denture gently rests on the patient’s gum tissue. The implant fixtures allow for micro-mobility while withstanding natural lifting forces.

This minimally invasive technique is fast becoming the system of choice for stabilizing the prosthesis of dental patients.

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