Dental implants - More information

How long does treatment take?

For routine cases, from the time of implant placement to the time of placing the first tooth/teeth, treatment times can vary between six weeks and six months.

The availability of better quality bone can be used to decrease treatment time, whilst more time and care must be taken with poorer bone, which can therefore extend treatment times beyond six months.

What should you know before you start treatment?

It is accepted practice that you should be given a written summary of your treatment planning discussion(s), highlighting your current dental situation and any alternatives there are to dental implants.

This summary should also include an overview of the anticipated treatment stages and give you some idea of how long treatment is likely to take, how many implants are required and what the fees are expected to be. There may well be other issues specific to your case and these would be dealt with accordingly.

How long will the implants last?

Once the implants and surrounding soft tissues are seen to be healthy and the new teeth comfortable and correctly adjusted, it is the quality of your personal attention to oral hygiene and willingness to attend regular maintenance reviews that will have most influence on how long they will last. When poorly cared for, implants will develop a covering of hard and soft deposits (calculus and plaque), which is very similar to that found on neglected natural teeth. Untreated, these deposits can lead to gum infection, bleeding, soreness and general discomfort. It could probably be said that implants can last as long as natural teeth.

Well-maintained implants placed into adequate bone can be expected to last for many years and possibly for your lifetime. However, just as you would expect conventional crowns, bridges and fillings to need occasional repairs or replacements, your implant-supported teeth may also have similar maintenance requirements over the years.

How many teeth can be supported by implants?

Dental implants can be used to replace one or several missing teeth. All the common forms of tooth replacement, such as bridges or dentures can be supported by dental implants.

If you are missing just one natural tooth, then one implant is normally all that will be needed to provide a replacement. However, larger spaces created by two, three or more missing teeth do not necessarily need one implant per tooth; the exact number of implants will depend upon the quality and volume of bone at each potential implant site.

Patients who have a habit of clenching or grinding (bruxing) their teeth may be at risk of overloading their implants. For most people bruxism occurs during sleep, which is why they are generally not aware of it. Heavily worn or flattened teeth, chipped enamel edges and/or regularly breaking pieces of heavily filled teeth are the most common clinical signs of bruxism. The effects of bruxism need to be considered during treatment planning and can be compensated for by placing additional implants, selecting appropriate restorative materials and providing a night time bite guard to protect the new teeth.

This will be discussed in your initial consultation and detailed in your treatment plan.