Implant tooth replacement is the most advanced dental technology available for the reliable replacement of a missing tooth.
An implant supported crown involves the placement of a titanium support screw within the jaw bone to which is attached a crown (artificial tooth) made of metal and ceramic. If more than one tooth is missing, an implant bridge can be used. This involves two or more implant screws used to support a series of connected crowns (also known as bridge).
Implants can also be used to hold dentures in place for those who have no remaining teeth.
A full mouth bridge can also be placed on 4 implants (all-on-4 bridge) to provide a replacement for missing teeth.
A single implant screw can be inserted in the jaw bone via a simple surgical procedure under local anaesthesia. If several implants are necessary, general anaesthesia might be required.
Requirements for implant placement
It is essential that the site where the implant is to be placed consists of healthy bone in sufficient quantity. It is therefore necessary to carefully assess the area for bone quantity and quality before implant placement. Imaging scans and radiographs are carried out to assess the potential implant site. If there is not enough bone thickness to accommodate the length of the implant screw, bone augmentation surgery is necessary.
Bone augmentation involves grafting bone taken from another site in the body to the area in the jaw where the implant is to be placed. A synthetic material can also be used for bone augmentation. In cases where an implant is to be placed in the upper jaw, the sinus cavity in the facial bone might not allow enough bone thickness for the implant screw. In these cases,
a procedure know as a sinus lift might be necessary as well as bone augmentation.
At the Melbourne Smile Clinic, all implant surgical procedures are carried out by qualified specialists- periodontists or oral surgeons- who have received additional training for the safea and precise placement of implants and for more complex bone augmentation and sinus lift procedures.
Once the implant screw has integrated, we will then place the crown over the implant to restore function and aesthetics.
In complex cases such as a full mouth bridge, we might refer you to a prosthodontist.
How safe are implants?
Implants have been proven to be safe and biocompatible. Implant screws are made of titanium metal which when placed into healthy bone tissue, allows close apposition of new bone around the implant locking it solidly into the bone. This process is called osseointegration. For an implant to be successful, osseointegration is essential. For osseointegration to occur, a healing period of up to 8 weeks is usually necessary after surgical placement of the implant.
Can implants fail?
Failure to integrate: When placed in a healthy site and by trained operator, implant integration success rate is more than 90%. Failure of integration can occur as a result of infection of the site, poor bone healing or premature loading of the implant after surgical placement. A history of smoking and periodontal disease can also reduce the success rate of implants. If an implant fails to integrate, it will eventually become loose in the bone and can even fall out. It is therefore critical that all proper procedures are followed to allow the implant to integrate successfully in the jaw bone.
Crown failure: An implant supported crown can fail if the crown fractures or comes off the implant. In some cases, the crown is held onto the implant by a small screw. Loosening of the screw can happen over time and does not necessarily imply failure as the screw can often be tightened or replaced. However, if the chewing forces on the crown are excessive, the crown can fracture and need to be replaced.
What implant systems do we use?
We prefer to use implant systems that have been researched and trialled and have been demonstrated by independent clinical studies to have a good success rate. We currently use genuine implant componentry from the following companies: