Simply put, dental implant treatment is a method of replacing missing teeth whereby titanium screws serve as a base to attach the new teeth into the jaw bone.
The implants can support individual implant-crowns or an implant-bridge. They can also provide anchorage for implant-retained dentures. The new teeth are referred as implant prosthesis or prostheses.
One of the main benefits of dental implant treatment is having the confidence that your new teeth are firmly attached and will not easily fall out or wobble. There are two methods to attach the implant-crown or the implant-bridge to the dental implants: by cementation or screw-retained. There are pros and cons of each method. The implant-retained denture usually clips to the implants via a ball attachment or a bar.
The titanium screw is the body of the dental implant. There's a middle connection connecting the two parts called the implant abutment. There is a second little screw (the abutment screw) securing the abutment to the implant body. The teeth themselves are finished either in plastic or ceramics.
Benefits of dental implants
Many patients benefit from dental implant treatment. It gives you the confidence to smile and eat well. There is no niggling worry that your denture will fall out and it protects adjacent healthy teeth. Intact tooth structure normally shaved to receive a dental bridge are preserved. The survival of dental implants is high. Advances in new technology and research facilitate implantation in complex sites and challenging environments which were previously not considered possible in the past. We use the latest and most advanced evidenced-based technology for your care.
Considerations surrounding dental implant treatment
We take great care in our assessment and treatment planning processes to minimise side effects and complications. You should discuss the prosthetics aspects of care with your dentist or prosthodontist. The implant prosthesis is subject to normal wear and tear just like regular teeth or your car tyres. Over time the prosthesis may require maintenance or replacement. The abutment can experience heavy loading over a lifetime and on rare occasions may also require replacement. We strive for a hygienic prosthetic design for easy toothbrushing and maintenance at home.
The biological interface between the implant and your gums and bone
The biological tissues around dental implants are called peri-implant tissues. Bone and gums are in direct contact with the implant surface. In health the dental implant is fixed in the jaw bone with the crestal bone levels located just below the neck of the implant; the gums or the peri-implant mucosa are pink and firm with a maximum probing depth of 4-5mm. Bleeding and suppuration are absent.
The osseo-integration process was first described by Professor Per-Ingvar Branemark in Sweden in the 1950s. Since then the treatment modality has become predictable and it a treatment option that is presented to the dental patient along side removable denture and conventional bridges supported by natural teeth. The focus of current literature is to investigate ways to optimise the biological interface with the goals of achieving predictable aesthetics in very challenging sites and reduction of the overall treatment timeframe. Over the past 15 years surgical protocols have been refined and digital technology with new ceramics make it possible to fabricate very natural looking teeth mimicking nature.
In a very similar fashion to the gums surrounding natural teeth, the gums or mucosa around the dental implants serves to protect the underlying jaw bone from the external environment and if these gums become infected and inflammed oral bacteria will track down the implant surface causing bone loss or peri-implantitis. In severe cases the implant will no longer be in function and may require ex-plantation.
The condition and design of the implant prosthesis can influence the biological tissues. For optimum health, the abutment should have a nice smooth emergence profile and the underside of the prosthesis facing the gums should be polished and easy to clean. The implant-crown margin should be located at or above the gums.
Dental implant treatment under the care of a periodontist
The way the implant emerges from the jaw bone to connect to the implant-prosthesis is critical in terms of aesthetics and mechanical stability. Your periodontist is an expert in this anatomical zone which shares many similarities to the periodontal tissues. The surgical techniques and specialist knowledge for periodontal management are very similar to those used for dental implant therapy. Dr. Lingfeng Soo uses an evidence-based approach for your dental implant treatment. We use only reputable dental implant systems with scientific documentation. We provide the full spectrum of implant care from placement to management of peri-implant problems. We have facilities available for your dentist or prosthodontist to provide immediate provisional implant restorations.
Maintenance considerations after you received your dental implants
Recent studies suggest that the biological tissues around implants are less resilient to gum infections compared to natural teeth. Therefore implant maintenance requirements are more intense than the maintenance of natural teeth. The threaded implant design with the screw threads which helps secure the implants in the bone also harbours oral bacteria in essence making it very challenging to treat peri-implantitis. Therefore we encourage all patients who have implants to enrol in a comprehensive maintenance program in order to prevent infections around the implant in the first place.
If you would like to find out if dental implant treatment is an option for you please contact our practice.
Dr. Soo is highly experienced in placing dental implants and in the treatment of peri-implant infections. She is also an ACC provider for dental implant surgery. We use the latest in science and technology for your dental implant treatment. All implants and implant componentry are sourced from the manufacturer, we do not use generic parts.