A dental implant is a titanium metal screw, which is placed into the jawbone.
It is used to support one or more false teeth. In practice, both false teeth and their supporting screw are known as ‘implants’.
Implants are a well-established, tried-and-tested treatment. 90 percent of modern implants last for at least 15 years.
You can have any number of implants – from one single tooth, to a complete set of teeth.
In some cases it may not be possible to replace missing teeth with implants. It depends on the state of the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will arrange for a number of special tests to assess the amount of bone still there. If there is not enough, or it is not healthy enough, it may not be possible to place implants without grafting bone into the area first.
Placing the implants requires a small operation. This can be carried out under local anaesthetic with sedation, or with a general anaesthetic. The placement will therefore be painless, but you may feel some discomfort during the week following the surgery. This is usually due to having sutures (stitches) in place, and the normal healing process.
The implants need to bond (integrate) with the bone after they have been in place before the new teeth are put in place. This takes at least 3 months in the lower jaw, and 6 months in the upper jaw. If you have one, two or three teeth replaced, you will have a temporary restoration in the meantime. If you have complete dentures, then these can be worn throughout the healing period once they have been modified after surgery.