Implant treatment is often the appropriate solution if, for example, a patient has suffered an injury and lost a tooth in an otherwise intact set of teeth, or in cases where a patient for some reason is missing a tooth and the adjacent teeth are intact. Some toothless patients also benefit greatly from implants to maintain a full set of dentures, especially in the lower jaw. An implant is a titanium screw with a specially treated surface screwed into the jawbone. The gums are folded aside to expose the bone. A hole is drilled in the bone which corresponds in diameter to the screw that will be inserted into the bone. After the implant has been inserted, the gums are folded back to cover the screw. It takes between 3 and 6 months for the implant to heal fully. (This depends on the position of the implant and thickness of the bone, and is assessed on an individual basis) During the healing period, the implant is not visible but covered with gums.
The implant is ‘tissue friendly’ and the bone grows very close to the implant, thereby holding it in place. After the healing period, the small area of the implant that was previously covered with mucous membrane (gum) is exposed and the dentist takes an impression for a crown. A technician manufactures the crown and the dentist attaches the crown to the implant. In the case of implants intended to keep a denture in place, small ball-like connectors are attached to the implants so that the denture stays in place using a special snap system. Implants should be treated like natural teeth and should be brushed every day. Gingivitis and periodontitis (peri-implantitis) may occur around implants.
Generally speaking, implant treatment is a safe treatment with a high success rate. However, it is risky to insert implants in patients with untreated periodontitis or who smoke heavily, since there is a risk of losing the implant.