From the mouth of the experts: An implant dentist answers the most Googled questions on dental implants: With the return of events and social occasions that we missed during the pandemic; a healthy smile has never been more sought after.
As the nation starts to navigate the ‘new normal,’ Brits seemingly want to look their very best, with investment in private dental treatments seeing an increase in popularity. One treatment that has seen a significant rise this year is dental implants, with searches for ‘how much do dental implants cost’ more than trebling, increasing by 350% YoY 1.
For those considering dental implant treatment but aren’t sure where to start, Mr Stephen Barter, Specialist in Oral Surgery and Head of Clinical Operations at Bupa Dental Care, offers advice on the treatment by answering the internet’s most searched questions.
Dental implants are a long-term, discreet solution to replace missing or failing teeth. Dental implants are usually provided during two separate stages. The first stage involves the surgical placement of the implant into the jaw bone, and the second involves at least two steps involved in the construction and fitting of your new tooth or teeth onto the implant.
What are dental implants and how do they work?
A dental implant is a small titanium screw, which is gently and precisely placed into a carefully planned position in the jaw bone, effectively replacing a missing tooth root. It is normally allowed to heal undisturbed for the next six to twelve weeks. During this period, the implant is not put under any pressure, enabling the bone to fuse to the implant. The implants may then be considered to be fused to the body, and can be used to support an individual crown, or multiple implants can be used to provide a bridge, or secure a loose denture, depending on the needs of each individual patient.
Sometimes, under certain conditions, temporary fixed teeth can be placed onto the implant on the same day that it is placed.
Missing teeth can have detrimental impacts on your oral health and on your quality of life. Perhaps most obviously, the impact on your appearance from a visible gap can really affect your confidence in social situations. Missing teeth or loose dentures can also affect your ability to chew your food properly, which often means people feel awkward about taking longer to finish a meal or suffer from digestive problems. Dental implants provide a solution to improve your ability to smile and chew.
Are dental implants safe?
Having a dental implant placed is safe, provided all of the correct procedures are followed. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks. The most common complication is inaccurate implant placement, which may lead to further ongoing problems. Sometimes implants fail to integrate with the bone and are lost. Rare complications of implant surgery include potential damage to nerves or surrounding teeth.
At Bupa Dental Care, we have a national network of experienced and trained clinicians offering implant treatment. If you have any questions about the risks of surgery, speak to your implant dentist.
What kinds of dental implant treatments are there?
The best implant treatment will be the option that is most suited to your specific, individual needs and this should always be assessed by your implant dentist.
Implant treatments fall into the four different categories:
- Single and multiple implants (usually 4 – 9 months for treatment and recovery time) A dental implant is a titanium screw that replaces a missing tooth root. It’s directly placed into the jawbone, meaning the implant gradually fuses with the bone surrounding it. This keeps the implant secure. Once it’s healed, your replacement tooth (which is matched to the rest of your natural teeth) can then be placed on top. It usually takes between four and nine months to have implant treatment, depending on the initial situation. This is because it takes time for the implant to fuse with the jawbone, which keeps the implant fixed in place. You may need some supporting treatment done, such as a bone graft. If this is needed, your treatment may take longer, possibly between six and eight months. Whilst occasionally a crown can be fitted onto the implant on the same day that it is placed, this increases the risk of failure and is not always a suitable approach.
You can also have multiple missing teeth replaced with multiple implants, but if you have lots of missing or failing teeth in a row, you may be offered another solution such as an implant-supported bridge or a denture clipped on to the implants.
- Implant supported bridges (4 – 9 months for treatment and recovery time)
This treatment is sometimes recommended to restore multiple missing or failing teeth in a row as an alternative to individual implants or traditional bridges. With an implant-supported bridge, implants are first placed into the jawbone and once these have fused with the bone, the bridge is placed on top of the implants, thus securing it in place. Treatment time usually takes four to nine months but varies from one person to another. You may need some supporting treatment done before you have an implant-supported bridge, such as a bone graft. If this is needed, your treatment may take longer, possibly between six and eight months.
- Implant-retained dentures (4 – 5 months for treatment and recovery time)
Also known as ‘clip in’ dentures, implant-retained dentures are conventional dentures that are firmly attached to dental implants. This treatment is a solution if you don’t have many or any natural teeth left, or have lost so much bone that it is not possible to provide fixed teeth. Usually, the dentures are fitted with a bar that clips onto your implants. You can still take them in and out for cleaning, but they are more secure than a standard, removable denture. Treatment time is usually four to seven months. During that time, you’ll be given a temporary denture, or you can wear your existing ones if you already have some that are in good condition.
- Smile in a day treatment (1 day to carry the fitting of the temporary bridge) Sometimes known as ‘teeth in a day’ or full mouth dental implants, the smile in a day technique is often used for people who have lost, or about to lose, all of their remaining teeth and involves replacing all of the teeth in one jaw using 4 or 6 implants, usually in one day… Temporary teeth are attached to the implants and are usually replaced three or four months later with the final bridge.
Are dental implants painful?
Implants are placed into the jaw bone under local anaesthetic, which numbs the mouth, so you won’t feel pain during implant placement. As with any surgical procedure, there will be some discomfort once the anaesthetic has worn off. You’ll likely have some pain that could last a day or two, and sometimes bruising and swelling, which could last around a week. This is normal and discomfort can usually be controlled by over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
If you experience severe pain, get in touch with your practice for further advice. If you’re very anxious about the procedure, let your dentist know and they may be able to offer dental sedation to help ease your anxiety.
Are dental implants worth it? For those who choose to have dental implant treatment done, and who ensure they understand the benefits but also the risks and responsibilities associated with it, the difference to their oral health and general wellbeing can be significant and they would certainly say yes, it was worth it.
Of course this is subjective, given the relative costs against other potential tooth replacement treatment. It is vital that treatment is performed properly at every stage, by an experienced and well-trained dentist. Dental implants often avoid the drilling of healthy adjacent teeth for crowns or bridges, or can stop dentures from being loose.
There are many benefits, but also risks, of having dental implant treatment. It’s really important to have a detailed conversation with your dentist to understand these before you decide whether treatment is right for you. You should also remember that caring for your implants is just as important as caring for your teeth properly.
How much do implants cost?
The average price of an implant with a single crown in the UK is £2,415*. The price of your implant will vary depending on your individual needs, including whether you want single or multiple implants, whether you need any supporting treatments or if you want a more complex restoration such as “Smile-in-a day-treatment.”
We take pride in being transparent about our pricing. Your dentist will take you through a full breakdown of treatment costs before you sign your treatment plan. To get an exact cost for treatment, find a Bupa practice near you offering implants and book a consultation. The first step is to have an initial consultation with your practice so they can talk you through your options.
What is the best aftercare following my dental implant treatment?
As with any surgical procedure, there will be some discomfort once the anaesthetic has worn off. You’ll likely have some pain that could last a day or two, and sometimes minor swelling, which could last around a week. Discomfort can usually be controlled by over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Advanced procedures involving more surgery will obviously carry higher likelihood of longer lasting pain, swelling, or bruising. Your implant surgeon will explain how you may feel after surgery and advise on how you should take care of your mouth and whether you need to take time off work.
Bleeding after surgery is not normally a significant issue – you may notice some blood in your saliva for the rest of the day of the procedure. Again, you’ll be given instructions about what to do in the event of any bleeding.
You must keep to a diet of soft foods for at least a week following treatment. Overloading the implant during the early bone healing phase can result in the bone failing to attach to the implant. It is also advisable to avoid drinking alcohol or smoking as these can slow down the healing process. It’s also important to keep your mouth as clean as possible, and your implant dentist will usually recommend you rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash twice per day.
If you’ve had any stitches, your implant dentist will schedule an appointment with you to have them removed about seven to 10 days after your implant has been placed. In general, you will then need to wait for the bone to heal onto the implant before you have your permanent tooth or teeth fitted. On average this will take 6-12 weeks, but will vary from person to person. In selected cases it may be possible to place a crown or a bridge on the implant on the same day that it is placed, but this does bring additional risks of implant failure.
Long term, it is essential to take good care of your implants. This involves following a strict home cleaning routine, seeing a dental hygienist on a regular basis, and reviews with your implant dentist to monitor the health of your implant. Dental implants can last as long as natural teeth, as long as they’re cared for properly. Implants can get gum disease, just like your natural teeth. This can mean that you lose the bone around an implant (this is also called peri-implant disease).
Mr Barter concludes: “If you’re researching or planning to have dental implants, you’ll probably have lots of questions. Knowing what you can expect from the treatment and speaking to an experienced implant dentist can help to put your mind at ease. For those wishing to learn more about dental implants and what might be the most suitable route for you, please get in touch with your implant dentist.”
Bupa Dental Care offers a wide range of dental treatments. To find out more please visit: www.bupadentalcare.co.uk.
About Bupa Dental Care
Bupa is a leading provider of NHS and private dental care with over 480 practices across the UK. People don’t need to be insured by us to attend one of our dental clinics; services and treatments are available to everyone.
We offer a wide range of dental services, from general dentistry to specialist cosmetic, orthodontic and restorative treatments. Our clinicians are highly trained and use some of the latest techniques and technology when treating patients.
We have over 2,000 dentists and 5,000 practice staff – together, they provide our patients with excellent oral health care. We provide practices with a clinical and customer framework, allowing our dentists to focus purely on providing good quality dentistry to patients.
Practices fall under Bupa Dental Care (formerly Oasis Dental Care), Total Orthodontics, Smiles and Platinum Dentistry.