A dental implant is a biocompatible (titanium) structure embeded in the jawbone which is used to support false teeth, such as denture, bridge or crown.

Properties
  • Do not need to grind down the neighbouring teeth.

  • Help to reduce bone resorption, and preserve the thickness of bone.

  • Increase the stability of full mouth dentures, and therefore increase the functions on chewing and speaking.
Disadvantage
  • Relatively expensive

  • Surgical procedure is needed.

  • Depending on the general and oral health conditions, not everybody is suitable to have an implant.
Purpose

To provide support to the false teeth without grinding down the remaining teeth in the mouth

Photograph of two exposed fixtures of implants on the upper jaw.

Photograph of an x-ray film showing the fitting of a bridge on the fixtures to replace the lost teeth.

Photograph of the appearance of the combination of true and false teeth after fitting a bridge the fixtures of implant.
Mechanism

Owing to the biocompatibility of titanium implants, the bone becomes united with the implants and the implants can serve as the roots to retain and support false teeth.

Material

Titanium

Procedures for dental implant

A standard procedure

  • Thorough examination
    First of all, a detailed oral examination is performed including X-ray examination, and CT (Computerised Tomography) scan to determine the position and angulations to place the titanium implants.

  • Surgery
    • Raise the gum flap and drill a hole into the jawbone at the pre-determined position and angulation. Then insert the dental implants into the hole and close the gum flap by sutures.
      Animation of the process of how the fixtures are being inserted into the jawbone.  The gum flap is raised and holes are drilled into the jawbone, followed by the insertion of  the fixtures of implants and  closing the gum flap.

    • Wait 3-6 months for the jawbone to unite with the dental implants. After that, perform second stage surgery, remove a small piece of gum covering the dental implant and insert a healing component onto the dental implants. This allows the gum to heal in a better shape around the dental implants.
      Animation of the process of placing the healing abutment onto the implant.  The small piece of gum covering the dental implant was removed and a healing component was inserted onto the dental implants.

  • False teeth fitting
    • When the gums around the dental implants healed up, replace the healing component by an impression component. Then take impressions of the dental arches. The impression component transfers the position and the angulations of the dental implant to the dental impression.
    • Fabricate the false teeth (denture, crown or bridge) in the dental laboratory.
    • Fix the false teeth onto the dental implants.
      Animation of the process of false teeth fitting onto the dental implants.

Other methods

Besides the conventional procedures mentioned above, there are some new methods of implant placement which shorten the total time required for treatment and may achieve a better appearance for the false tooth. However, the success rate for the new methods may not be as high as that for the conventional method, and not all cases are suitable. These are the three common new methods :

  • The one-stage surgical procedure is done by placing the healing abutment onto the implant at the same time during the first surgery, which eliminates the need for a second surgery after 3-6 months.

  • The immediate implant procedure is done by inserting the implant into the socket immediately or shortly (in few weeks) after extraction. The advantage is not only shorten the whole treatment time required, but also preserve the gum tissue and bone in a better way such that the appearance of the future false teeth can be better. Nevertheless, this method is only suitable for certain cases like no severe inflammation around the extraction tooth, and has sufficient bone thickness around the wound. Therefore, it depends on the dentist’s clinical judgment.

  • The immediately loaded implant procedure is done by placing the prosthesis at the same time when the implant is inserted. Patient makes only one trip to the dentist and leaves with “teeth’ inserted. Whether this method can be applied is dependent on the dentist’s clinical judgments. It is important to have sufficient stability for the implant to stay at the wound.
Which kind of dental implant is suitable for you?

The choice of implant system and procedure is dependent on the condition of the jaw bone and the patient factors, the training of the dentist, cost, etc. Please discuss with your dentist to make the appropriate choice.

Points to note after insertion of dental implant
  • Teeth must be cleaned thoroughly to prevent infection of tissues around the implant which can cause the implant to loosen.
  • Regular recall and cleaning by dental professionals is also very important for the maintenance of dental implant. Besides, it is also necessary to keep good oral hygiene.