The Australian dental industry is booming, and it’s no surprise given the number of people who need reconstructive dental treatment after tooth loss or an injury.
Dental implants are a common procedure that many people undergo for tooth replacements. It is an invasive dental restoration treatment since it involves a surgical procedure. However, not every dentist can perform this dental treatment, and it is crucial to find a skilled and qualified one before you start this process.
When it comes time for restorative work such as dental implants, many factors determine whether or not the procedure will be successful. One of these factors is choosing a dentist who is experienced with this type of work and has access to appropriate materials and technology.
What Are Dental Implants?
Implants are artificial tooth root replacements designed to fuse with your jawbone. They are used to provide a strong foundation for custom-made single crowns, dentures or full bridges.
Implants are made of titanium which is a biocompatible material. It means that it does not cause irritation nor gets rejected by the body. A dental implant typically consists of an artificial tooth, an abutment and a crown.
Aside from its aesthetic benefits, it could withstand oral pressure, biting force, chewing forces and allow for speech articulation. Moreover, they provide stability to the mouth and often relieve pain in the jaw, gums and neck.
Want to learn more? Read our detailed guide: What Are Dental Implants: Complete Guide
Two Types Of Dental Implants
This type of implant has been used for decades and remains one of the most common forms of dental implants due to its structural benefits.
The titanium post is implanted into the patient’s natural jawbones. Since it fuses with an existing natural bone while healing, it provides stability and protection against bone loss. Therefore, the patient needs to have sufficient jawbone for this treatment to proceed.
The development of new orthodontics has led to phenomenal advancements in implant technology. For example, subperiosteal implants are a rare but effective solution for patients with inadequate bone mass that may not support the endosteal implants. Subperiosteal implants go underneath the gum tissue, just on top of the jaw bone, but they aren’t inserted into the bone itself.
Want to learn more? Read our detailed guide: Different Types Of Dental Implants
Who Should Perform Dental Implants
A licensed dentist can perform a dental implant as long as they follow the accepted standard of proper care for the patient.
Dental practitioners who do routine surgery on the jawbone are best qualified for implant placement.
Dental implants are typically inserted by an oral surgeon with four years of training, specializing in surgery and complex procedures. They can also provide sedation when needed.
The periodontist will treat patients whose gum disease is severe enough to warrant surgery. Also, they are trained to do preventative care to patients at risk of developing gum diseases. They can offer a variety of advanced procedures for different stages of dental care. Moreover, periodontists have extensive training in treating gum problems, with a strong focus on installing implants.
These days, prosthodontists can do much more than repairing your broken teeth. They can use cosmetic dentistry procedures such as porcelain veneers or dental implants to enhance your smile. They perform various dental treatments, from repairing simple bridges to more complicated reconstructive work for patients who have previously experienced oral trauma.
Endodontists are dental specialists who perform various treatments to fix tooth loss, such as root canal therapy and post and core dental implants. They also diagnose injuries caused by trauma that affect teeth or the mouth. These dentists have an understanding of both atraumatic extractions and implants in addition to being trained in endodontic therapy.
Though general dentists are usually qualified and capable of performing dental services, they may not have the same level of training as qualified specialists in more complex procedures.
When someone needs a complicated and multi-step dental procedure, the general dentist may refer them to a specialist if they are not qualified to diagnose or provide treatment. Typically, when dentists cannot diagnose or treat a patient’s dental needs, they will decide that the situation calls for another specialist.
Can a General Dentist Perform a Dental Implant Procedure?
The dentist you see may not offer dental implants, so checking when getting any other type of procedure is essential. Your dentist needs to have the proper expertise for a successful dental implant procedure.
Dental implant placement is typically done by specialists, as general dentists generally need additional training to place implants. Your dentist would learn the skills necessary during special post-doctoral training. The primary concern of your dentist should be the long-term dental health and quality of your smile.
Questions to Ask when Choosing Your Dentist for Dental Implants
How long many years have you been placing implants?
Be sure to ask the doctor what his experience level is. Implant procedures require an advanced technique, and both doctors and patients should know when a dentist has had prior experience.
How many implants have you performed?
Implant placement is a skill, and how often someone practices this skill can significantly increase their level of experience. It’s like the difference between somebody who plays tennis once every few months for maintenance versus somebody who competes typically in local tournaments with regularity. The more you play, the better your skills will be. Hence, a provider who places 3 or 4 implants a year is not at the same experience level as those who do it every week.
What type and brand of implant do you use?
There are high-quality, established titanium implant manufacturers. However, 4% of them fail. It is recommended that any surgeon you speak to about the problem will be honest enough with you to engage in a conversation about reasonable expectations.
What training have you attended?
You may ask the dental surgeon about the programs he has completed to become competent in dental implant surgery, whether a university program, extensive training program, or a seminar conducted by an implant manufacturer. If he has done an externship and several months of the long-term training program, then you are in good hands.
Is it possible to have intravenous sedation for this surgery?
Dental implants can usually be done with only a local anesthetic, but sedatives are available for patients with anxiety surrounding the surgery.
Is the entire procedure all done in the same office with the same dentist?
General dentists and prosthodontists work extensively with teeth position, shape, and occlusion daily; therefore, they have extensive knowledge of how teeth should be precise. Thus, the position where the artificial tooth root and the fake teeth are placed is essential. It is often preferable to have the dentist decide to specialise where to implant and create the teeth. Having one person in charge of the whole implant process is better for patients.
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
Dental implants are not for everyone. Replacing missing teeth with a dental implant is usually an appropriate treatment for most patients above 18 years old who have a healthy jawbone and mouth. During the planning process, the oral surgeon will evaluate to determine if you’re eligible for implants.
How much do implants treatment costs?
Although dental implants have become a popular treatment for restoring missing teeth, many dental insurance plans do not cover the costs. The cost of the treatment depends on many factors, so make sure to ask the dentist about your treatment plan with all expenses and dental visits included.
Dental Implants Procedure
Your dentist will help determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants by examining your oral health during the initial consultation. A typical checkup includes a clinical evaluation and advanced digital imaging. The dentist may ask about your medical history as well. You will also discuss any additional surgery needed with the specialist, such as a bone graft or sinus augmentation, to ensure sufficient bone mass for future implants.
A bone graft is done to provide a solid base for the weakened bone to ensure stability. On the other hand, a sinus lift is performed when you have less bone height in your upper jaw and sinuses too close to the jaw. However, the healing time for this dental procedure usually takes three to twelve months before it can support the dental implant.
If the tooth extraction is needed before your dental implant surgery, a two-month healing period is required until it is safe to undergo the implant procedure. However, in some rare cases, an artificial root will be implanted on the same day as tooth extraction.
Placing the Implant
The dentist will typically use local anesthesia for most patients, and you will be numb and comfortable throughout your procedure. Some patients instead use nitrous oxide or general anesthesia to alleviate dental anxiety.
To place a dental implant, your oral surgeon will make an incision in your gums and expose the bone. Holes are drilled into the exposed bone to anchor the metal post, then inserted to align with your natural tooth root. Following this, the gum tissue around it will be sutured so that the healing phase can happen. Furthermore, the recovery time from the surgery will often take between four to six months.
Installing the Abutment
After osseointegration is complete, minor surgery will be done to install the abutment for your porcelain crown. It’s the piece that attaches to your implant, where the false tooth will be placed securely. This procedure can typically be done with local anesthesia, and it is an outpatient procedure.
One downside to this abutment is that it extends past the gum line, which means you can see it if you open your mouth. It will remain until your tooth replacement is fitted.
After the abutment is attached, it takes around two weeks until the gums have healed, and then a dental crown will be placed.
Fitting the Crown
After the gum around your healing tooth has completely healed, the dentist will take impressions of your teeth and make a mould that can be used to create a new crown. However, before it’s placed into your mouth, the jawbone needs to be strong and secured enough to hold the replacement tooth as well as withstand the biting force.
When choosing an implant tooth, the colour of your crown should match your original teeth to help you achieve a more natural-looking smile.
Want to learn more? Read our detailed guide: Dental Implants Procedure: What You Need To Know
Alternatives to Dental Implants
Everyone’s teeth are different, and so is every person’s dental needs and desires for their smile. Dental implants have been a revolutionary dental procedure for patients who are missing teeth.
Removable dentures are generally much cheaper than implants, given that they can be made from materials such as acrylic or metal. However, they come with certain limitations and disadvantages.
Full or Complete Mouth Dentures
Complete dentures are an excellent choice for people who have lost all their teeth or are due for tooth extraction because of damage or decay. They let you chew more thoroughly, and they give the appearance that you still have your whole set of straight teeth, so people will not notice much difference in how you look. The downside is that it can get tricky with only gums as support when chewing food because it isn’t as effective as using natural teeth or implants. So your diet may need some adjustments.
The use of partial dentures is necessary when you have teeth missing that need to be replaced. Partial dentures are fixed to a plastic base that matches the colour of your gums which helps keep it in place without being noticeable from the outside. It may also attach via clasps made of metal so they can be secured tightly onto one’s natural teeth.
Partial dentures improve your ability to speak and eat quickly and are removed for cleaning or repairs without much hassle. Moreover, they can cause discomfort and instability and require more upkeep than other tooth replacement options.
Dental bridges replace one or more missing teeth by joining an artificial tooth permanently to adjacent natural teeth forming a bridge. Since the teeth need to be cut down to fit the crown, it is putting a risk on the nerves within the teeth, which could become damaged during the process. The bridge is fixed into the mouth using special glue. Therefore, it won’t move or get loose in your mouth.
The bridge is anchored in place so that it might feel and function more like natural teeth. For this reason, you may find that you like this option over partial dentures. You’ll also never have to remove them for cleaning purposes, reducing the possibility of losing or dropping them, which could happen with dentures. However, it is challenging to clean; thus, there is a possibility that the patient may have tooth decay or gum disease, so it is best to have good oral hygiene.
Although dental bridges are cheaper than implants, they usually need to be replaced within ten years.
Dental implants are an incredible and often life-changing treatment for those who have lost teeth. But, what if you’re not sure whether or not you can get the dental implant procedure done? The good news is that there are more qualified dentists than ever before. Whether in your city or out of state, the chances are likely that someone will offer to perform the work on you.
If you need dental implants in Melbourne or the surrounding areas, call us at 03 8771 4137 for more information about how we use state-of-the-art technology and expert skills to provide natural-looking results that last. We’ll work with you until your smile is as perfect as it can be.