Dental Implants

Losing one or more teeth can be a difficult experience and can significantly impact a person's quality of life. Fortunately, modern implantology offers a reliable and scientifically-recognized approach to tooth restoration, which is often the preferred option compared to traditional methods such as bridges. The success of the implant procedure depends on a range of factors, including the amount of bone available for the implant to attach to, the overall health of the patient, and the experience of the dentist performing the procedure.

It is important to have a thorough consultation with your dentist so that you can understand the risks and benefits associated with the treatment and make an informed decision. If you are affected by tooth loss and considering a suitable treatment option, this article will provide answers to your pertinent questions.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are firmly-anchored replacements for natural teeth and can replace one missing tooth or several teeth. First, an artificial tooth root (the implant) is inserted directly into the jawbone. During the healing phase, the implant and the bone form a very stable and permanent bond. After the abutment has been secured with a screw, crowns, bridges, or removable dentures can be attached to the implant. The result often looks very similar to natural teeth.

The Use of Dental Implants

Dental implants offer an ideal solution for replacing missing teeth, with no damage to adjacent teeth. Unlike bridges, which require grinding down healthy teeth to provide support, implants provide a safe and effective alternative.

Implants are an ideal choice if:

  • one or more teeth are missing
  • the rear teeth no longer provide stability and a prosthesis cannot be attached

The Different Types of Dental Implants

The most common form of dental implant is the screw implant, which consists of three components: the implant itself, the post (abutment), and a connecting screw. Other implant shapes include:

  1. Cylindrical implants (without thread)
  2. Stepped implants (as cylinder or screw)
  3. Conical implants (as a screw or stepped cylinder)

The type and shape of implant used depend on the tooth situation, bone substance, and patient requirements. There is a suitable implant for almost every situation in the jaw:

  • short implants
  • narrow implants
  • One-piece implants
  • Two-piece implants
  • mini implants
  • zygomatic implants

Mini implants, for instance, are shorter and have a smaller diameter than regular models, and can often be used without prior bone augmentation via a minimally invasive approach. They are used to attach full dentures, in areas with little bone material (mainly in the lower jaw) or for patients who cannot undergo lengthy treatment.

Zygomatic implants are longer than conventional dental implants. They are the last resort when there has been significant bone loss in the upper jaw and bone augmentation is not an option. 

What are Dental Implants made of?

Titanium and zirconia are the two materials used for dental implants. In most cases, titanium implants are used due to their corrosion resistance, good tolerance, and resilience. During the healing phase, titanium implants connect directly to the jawbone and are accepted as the body's own tissue. Titanium implants have proven to be successful in implantology.

However, in certain cases, such as when a patient's incisors need to be replaced or a patient has very thin gums, zirconia implants may provide better aesthetic results. These implants are made entirely of white all-zirconia, making them resemble natural tooth substances and providing a high-quality, metal-free alternative for allergy sufferers.

How is the course of a Dental Implant treatment?

The course of a dental implant treatment typically involves several stages. At a glance:

Consultation & Anamnesis:
The dentist will assess why an implant is necessary and if any other issues such as tooth decay or gingivitis need to be addressed first. 3D-Scans and X-rays are usually taken to determine if the bone needs to be built up before the implant can be inserted.

Bone Check
If the jawbone is solid, the implant can be inserted directly. But bone grafting may be required.

Insertion of the Implant
This process typically takes up to 90 minutes. The dentist will use special drills to prepare the foundation so that the implant can be securely fixed. Digital technology and surgical guides are used to ensure the implant is positioned correctly.

Healing Process
Patience is key here - it can take up to three months for a lower jaw implant to take a load, and even longer in the upper jaw due to the lower bone density. After healing, the implant may be uncovered and the chosen fixed or removable denture attached to the implant.

Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?

Implants cannot be placed in every patient without hesitation. In some cases, certain contraindications require more detailed examination and treatment.

For example, if the gums are inflamed, treating the infection must be the top priority. Once the periodontal disease has healed, you can discuss the further process with your dentist.

Certain diseases and medications can prevent dental implants from being performed. These include:

  • Diabetes mellitus (if untreated or not well controlled)
  • Severe cardiovascular diseases
  • Certain medications

If you are taking any of these, you should speak to your dentist to determine if the dosage can be reduced for a limited period of time to carry out the implantation.

Are there risks?

Thanks to the implementation of advanced technologies and extensive knowledge, risks can be effectively managed. However, as with all surgical procedures, complications must be taken into account.

During the preparation and post-treatment phase, the emphasis is placed on minimizing inflammation in the vicinity of the implant as it can result in bone loss. In the event of inflammation, the implant must be uncovered, the inflammation treated and, if necessary, the bone tissue built up again.

How do I take care of Dental Implants?

The better implants are cared for, the longer they last. Oral hygiene is especially important since bacteria can more easily penetrate the gums around implants than natural teeth. This can cause inflammation (periodontitis or peri-implantitis), which leads to bone loss and can put the implant at risk. Implants should be cared for in the same way as natural teeth: regularly (2-3 times a day, after meals), preferably with an electric toothbrush and the correct cleaning technique. We also recommend using dental floss or interdental toothbrushes and professional teeth cleaning twice a year.