For people with one or two missing teeth, dental implants are arguably the best option available on the market today for replacing those teeth. Compared to other measures like dentures or bridges, dental implants are designed to mimic the look, texture, and function of the original tooth as much as possible; this gives the patient a comfortable and more ‘natural’ feel, as if they had never lost the tooth in the first place. One obvious caveat to the implants is that it will require surgery, which in turn means that it is a lot more expensive than other options. As a trade-off however, implants are permanent fixtures and are designed to be very durable, and they will outlast dentures and bridges by several years if not decades with the right care.
Now, thanks to a growing body of research on the subject, dental implants have been shown to have another significant benefit. Several recent studies have found that patients who have undergone dental implants for missing teeth had a higher oral health-related quality of life – in other words, research quantified that they had a better experience living with said implants.
One such study in 2017 examined around 800 patients of a certain hospital in Japan that were organised into two groups: those who had not yet started any prosthodontic treatment, and those who had undergone dental implant surgery for some time prior to the survey. They were surveyed using a questionnaire based around the Geriatric Oral Health Assessment Index or GOHAI, the questions of which targeted many of the aspects of living with a dental implant such as how well the patient was able to eat with the tooth implant or how satisfied they were with how the implant looked. The results of the study found a connection between the GOHAI score and the status of the prosthodontic treatment, with the post-implant group revealing higher scores across the board compared to the pre-implant group.
Another study in 2018 surveyed 647 patients who have had an implant for at least 3 months before the survey. The survey was also conducted using a GOHAI-based questionnaire to quantify the patients’ quality of life ratings that would then be compared against other collected GOHAI scores. This study recorded higher GOHAI scores among the surveyed patients, in which a majority exceeded the average GOHAI score in the nation for the same age bracket.
So yes, the research seems all well and good. But say I have a broken or missing tooth. What would be the general procedure for getting a dental implant?
Naturally, you would first need to head to your dentist and get your missing teeth checked out. Most dentists will usually start with a visual examination of the problem area, then getting an X-ray so they have a better idea of what to work with. More recently, however, there are now what are called “digital” dental implants; the term “digital” in this sense doesn’t refer to the implant itself, but rather to the use of a digital imaging tool that the dentist will use to scan your teeth to create an accurate 3D model of your teeth on a computer. This digital model can be used to help the dentist choose the right implant as well as position it properly during surgery.
Once your dentist has assessed your specific case, he or she will then give you a treatment plan for the implant. The process will vary slightly depending on certain factors, like the condition of your jaw or the neighbouring teeth, but in general it should go like this. The dentist will perform a root canal procedure to clean out and remove the tissues in the root of the broken or missing tooth. This will prepare the area for the implant surgery. The surgery itself involves first drilling a hole all the way into your jawbone, then fixing a metal post (usually made out of titanium) into the hole, screwing it into place.
When this is done, the dentist will advise you to leave it alone for several months to allow it to undergo osseointegration, where your healing jawbone grows around the metal post and secures it completely. To protect the exposed end of the post, as well as to maintain the appearance of your teeth, your dentist will place a temporary crown with a plastic shell. Once the osseointegration process has completed, you will then come back to your dentist to complete the process. This last step involves simply replacing the temporary plastic crown with one that is more permanent – these crowns are usually made out of porcelain and are coloured and shaped to resemble the original tooth as closely as possible.
If you are in the Joondalup or northern Perth area and would like to avail of high quality dental care services such as implants, orthodontics, or other treatments, come to our clinic at Suite 203 5/115 Grand Boulevard Joondalup or contact us at (08) 6323 2975 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with us today.