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Implantology

What are implants and under which circumstances should they be done?
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When a tooth is lost, one way of replacing it is through implant treatment.  An implant is a screw made from titanium which is surgically rooted into the jaw bone of the toothless area, replacing the tooth root.  Once it biologically fuses with the bone, it is capped with a porcelain tooth.  In terms of appearance and chewing sensations, it is the most natural prosthesis option.  Because of the advantages it provides the patient, implants have become the most popular form of treatment in recent years.  Ranging from single tooth absence to multiple teeth absences, implants can be used as a fixed prosthesis without touching neighboring teeth, as well as in the form of fixed or implant supported moveable prosthesis for patients who use removable prosthesis.

What are the advantages of implant treatment?
  
Implant treatment is very user-friendly, comfortable, reliable, aesthetic, and in terms of the patient a very acceptable treatment method.  Porcelain prosthesis made on top of implants provide a natural and aesthetic look while replacing actual teeth.  As missing teeth are filled in, the fact that the other healthy teeth remain untouched is an advantage.  When compared to all other prosthesis, they have a much longer lifespan.  To date, there have been cases where a patient has undergone implant treatment and an implant has remained successfully mounted for 41 years.  Furthermore as the patient’s self-confidence is increased, the negative psychological effects brought on by absent teeth are also eliminated.

Is implant treatment long-lasting?

The history of dental implants dates back to the early 1800’s.  Today, 35-40 year old near-perfect implants with clinic track records still exist.  If appropriately chosen implants are correctly mounted in a suitable situation, and the patient has shown the necessary care to their oral hygiene, the implants will stay mounted in the mouth for a very long time without causing any problems.

Can implants be used on all patients? 
 
Implants may be used on all patients with a good general state of health.  As long as the patient’s general state of health is good, there is no upper age limit to prevent implant treatment.  Only in patients whose bone development has not been completed may implant treatment be unsuitable. 

Implant screws have a specific thickness and wideness.  Therefore, the jaw bone where the implant will be mounted must have a height and width suitable for the implants.  The quality of the bone is also a determining factor; very tough or very soft bones may negatively affect the success of the implant.  Aside from these, gums and neighboring anatomical structures are also important factors in implant treatments. 

In which cases can implants be used?

Whether with a single tooth, or with multiple missing teeth, an implant can be performed so long as there is sufficient bone on which to mount the implant.  The important issue at this point is the width and height of the bone, as well as its distance to neighboring teeth and anatomical structures.  For this purpose, radiography or computed tomography can accurately identify the condition of the bone. 

Is an implant procedure painful?

As is the case with all dental procedures, the patient will feel no pain if the proper anaesthetic method has been applied prior to the implant treatment.  In cases where patients may have a fear of local anaesthetics or those who have extreme gag reflexes, implant treatment may also be performed under general anaesthesia.  Following the procedure, slight aches may be felt similar to that of having a tooth extracted.  This mild discomfort, generally felt on the evening of the implant treatment, can be treated with standard pain killers.

How long does the total treatment take?

Implant treatment is performed in two stages.  The mounting of the implants stage, which varies depending on the number of implants to be mounted, takes approximately ten minutes for each implant.  This may vary depending on the tooth and bone structure of the patient.  The second stage, the prosthesis stage, takes place approximately 2-3 months after the implants have been mounted.  This time frame is also the total duration of the treatment.  Temporary prosthesis utilized during this period will not pose any problems in terms of aesthetics and functionality. 

How long after the implants have been mounted can the prosthesis be fitted? 
  
The time needed for the implants to completely fuse with the bone (osseointegration) is approximately 2-3 months.  During this time, the amount of pressure placed on the implants should be kept at a minimum.  A temporary prosthesis may be used for the duration of the recovery period, provided excessive pressure is not placed on the implants.  Permanent prosthesis may be introduced once the implants have completely fused with the jaw bone. 

Does each missing tooth require an individual implant?

No, generally not.  In cases where more than 2 teeth are absent, planning may be done accordingly to accommodate bridge prosthesis in the toothless area by leaving gaps between implants. 

What happens if the implant doesn’t fuse with the bone?

Provided the implants are properly mounted, the chances of this happening are slim to none.  The odds of failure are approximately 1-2%.  These types of failures generally present themselves within the first 3 months following the mounting of the implant.  In such cases, the implant is extracted by a procedure as simple as extracting a tooth, and provided that the bone has not been damaged too severely, a slightly thicker implant can be mounted.  If the bone has been too deteriorated, a new implant may be mounted once the bone has healed, or as an alternative, classic prosthesis options may also be considered. 

Where and how are implant treatments performed?

Implant treatments are carried out through multidisciplinary work.  This consists of the maxillofacial surgeon who will mount the implants to the jaw bone, the prosthesis specialist who will make the prosthesis which will be placed on top of the implants and the periodontist who will monitor the adaptability and health of the gums once the treatment has been completed.  Having such a procedure performed in a complex medical centre is especially important for the health of the patient.  Throughout this treatment, a thorough examination of the patient’s general health situation and/or inspection of the area receiving the implant, along with certain findings may be required.  Aside from this, panoramic film or dental cone beam computed tomography may be used to analyse the condition of the bone.   
      
What are the advantages of implant treatment?

Patients who have no teeth on the lower jaw and use a removable prosthesis often complain of aching and chewing difficulty caused by constant movement of the prosthesis.  This complaint only gets worse with time, as the bone tissue supporting the prosthesis is worn down.  In these circumstances, implant treatment not only ends complaints but also ceases wearing down of the bone. 

In patients who have lost portions of their teeth on the lower or upper jaw, the absent teeth can be covered by use of a hooked and moveable prosthesis or, if applicable, with a bridge prosthesis.  Ultimately, the difficulty of use of removable prosthesis and the need to cut healthy teeth when mounting bridge prosthesis are unfavourable circumstances for patients.  In such situations, as the implant treatment will be done with a fixed prosthesis, the aforementioned negative drawbacks are all eliminated. 

In patients who have lost only one tooth, the classic treatment method is having to cut at least two neighboring teeth for the sole purpose of restoring one tooth.  In such situations, a single implant will prevent the need to cut neighboring teeth.  As such, a more aesthetic and functional prosthesis will have been applied.  
  
Is there a possibility that the implant will be unsuccessful?

The odds of failure in implants are approximately 1-2%.  It is important to learn the patient’s general state of health prior to implant treatment.  With certain diseases (such as diabetes), it is best to refrain from implant treatment.  Moreover, with patients who smoke or those who do not take the necessary care in oral hygiene, the chances of success for implants are lower. Notwithstanding, the area in which the implant will be applied should be very carefully assessed.  Several circumstances such as the amount of bone, the quality, its adjacency to anatomic structures, all need to be taken into consideration.  If careful work is done in the implant treatment and the patient has taken the necessary care, the implants will stay mounted in the mouth for a very long time without causing any problems. 

Do implants cause cancer?

Unfortunately there is a common such misconception amongst the general public.  However, no scientific research to date has suggested any evidence that implants may lead to cancer.