People of our age did not enjoy the excellent dental care now available for young teeth. When we were young fillings were common place whereas today many children have no fillings at all. This improvement is partly due to the increased knowledge we have about diet and looking after teeth and gums and some due to great advances in professional dental care and treatments.
Some of these advances benefit our age as well; and one major step forward for our age group is the development of implants, something our parents probably never even dreamed could happen.
When we lose teeth, whether through an accident when they are knocked out or broken, or from decay or gum disease, we have a problem. Losing teeth affect our looks dramatically; missing teeth also affect how and what we can eat. Teeth really are so important. In the past, the most common treatment for missing teeth was a bridge or dentures.
Today dental implants are becoming more and more popular and of course are perfect for people who haven’t enough healthy teeth for a bridge or find dentures uncomfortable or inappropriate for their lifestyles. Implants can also bring additional benefits such as a reduction in the rate of bone loss.
One development that has helped lead the way to implants is the advancement in modern materials. Implants are made from titanium, a strong material that is tolerated very well by bone and integrates easily with bone tissue. With implants, the artificial tooth or teeth are anchored into your jaw-bone and the goal is to achieve close contact between the outer surface of the implant and the surrounding bone tissue so that they can fuse together to create a stable base to support the new teeth.
It is key that the health of your teeth and gums are checked before any procedure takes place, and if there is any gum disease, this has to be treated before any further steps can be taken.
Having an implant is quite a long procedure and follows a lot of preparation work including x-rays to check bone quality. In some patients where bone loss is substantial, a bone graft may be required before placing a dental implant.
The procedure of inserting the implants is usually done under a local anaesthetic but this is not the end of the procedure. To begin with, only the bases of the new teeth are inserted. Then the area is left to heal for anything up to six months, allowing the natural bone tissue to grow and attach itself to the rough surface of the implant.
During this time, patients are usually given temporary teeth or they can continue to wear dentures. Then, in another procedure the gum is lifted and a post is attached to the implant with a temporary tooth. Finally, around a month or so later, when the surrounding gum tissue has healed, the permanent tooth can be fitted.
It is a long procedure but what a difference it can make. As many say, it is just like having your own teeth back again.
Of course, implants need cleaning and continuing with oral hygiene is vital to ensure the gums surrounding the implants remain healthy. But with care, modern implants can last 30 years or longer.
Cost is a major factor, a single implant can cost between £800 and £3000 or even more depending on individual circumstances. But for many people, they would rather go without a holiday or change their lifestyle so that they can enjoy a denture free smile and worry
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