Dental implants are a relatively new concept that involves replacing the damaged root of a tooth with a thin titanium rod; in most cases, a new crown is then attached to the implant, creating a new, healthy looking tooth. Dental implants are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional devices such as dental bridges and dentures.

Why have an implant?

Dental implants are a durable solution to missing and broken teeth; they also look natural and do not affect the way people talk or eat. Dental implants also have benefits for dental health as they reduce the rate of bone loss around the affected tooth and contribute to growth of bone in that area. Dental implants also reduce the risk of infection and decay because they do not have surfaces which trap bacteria, plaque and food deposits like other restorative devices.

Are dental implants noticeable?

Dental implants are designed to fit in with the rest of the teeth and should not look any different from the other teeth. If a new crown is being fitted, it will be designed to match the colour and shape of the other teeth.

How does the cost compare to alternative methods?

Dental implants are more expensive than dental bridges and dentures but they last longer, are more comfortable and are more aesthetically pleasing than the other treatments. The cost of treatment is always dependent on which dentist you choose as their fees vary considerably according to their qualifications, experience and reputation. In some cases, additional treatment may be needed before the implant is fitted, which will increase the cost of the treatment. On average, a dental implant costs around £1000.

How is the dental implant fitted?

Once the dentist has checked to see if the patient can have a dental implant, an incision will be made in the gum in the area where the implant is going to be inserted. Once the incision has been made, the gum is lifted and the dentist will make a tiny hole in the jaw bone; this will hold the implant in place. Once the titanium implant has been secured in the socket, the gum will be closed again; the healing process should take around 6 weeks. After this time, the crown can be attached to the implant; the gum will once again be lifted so that the new crown can be fixed to the implant and the process should be complete.

Are dental implants suitable for everyone?

While dental implants are suitable for most people, there may be exceptions. This treatment is generally not used on children or teenagers as their jaw bones are not fully developed. People who smoke or drink heavily, those with gum disease and people who suffer from existing conditions, which affect their immune system or the strength of their bone tissue, are also usually advised to consider another form of treatment. People who grind their teeth regularly may not be able to have this treatment.

What if I need several new teeth?

In cases where patients have more than one new tooth fitted a number of dental implants may be required. Usually one crown is supported by one implant but an implant may hold more than one tooth in place; if a whole new set of teeth is needed at least 5 dental implants will be fitted to anchor the new teeth.

Are dental implants available on the NHS?

In most cases, dental implants are not available on the NHS, although there may be some instances where the NHS may be willing to pay for treatment; usually this involves patients who have lost teeth due to traumatic accidents. In most cases, dental implants are fitted to improve the aesthetic appeal of a persons teeth and are therefore not considered as an essential treatment.

How much do dental implants cost?

The cost of dental implants varies depending on who carries out the procedure and where it takes place; you should ask your dentist how much the treatment will cost before you go ahead with it. The total cost of the treatment will also include costs for treatment prior to the procedure and will also depend on how many implants are needed. On average, an implant costs approximately £600-£1500.

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