The How, What and Why of Dental Implants

Aug 17, 2020

The loss of teeth is unfortunately considered as an inevitable circumstance of getting older. Because of too few check-ups and bad dental hygiene, the teeth will decay through caries (holes) and/or periodontal (gum) problems, sometimes even at a young age. A good brushing technique, sensible eating habits (little sugar) and regular checkups and treatment by the dentist can almost assure keeping your own teeth into old age.

But what if the damage is already done and some or all teeth have been extracted?

At first, the patient often feels relieved and the loss of teeth appears to be the solution to many problems. But after a while proves to be more of a problem than a solution. There is no more pain and further treatment of the extracted teeth is unnecessary. The wound inside the mouth heal and all problems appear to be solved. However, if only few teeth remain or none at all, a number of snags will soon crop up.

• Chewing becomes difficult (and porridge, ganji and soft diet will soon become boring)
• Talking is a problem
• Appearance will change and cheek will become hollow and a broad smile is impossible
• Psychological changes as patients feel less assured.

Depending on the situation, a fixed denture, a removable denture or a complete denture may be advised to alleviate these problems.

Each of these solutions have both advantages and disadvantages, while a fixed denture is cemented to the teeth and does not move, it involves grinding of the neighbouring teeth for support. A well-fitting removable denture or complete denture does not involve grinding of teeth but with time the jaws shrink (resorb) and dentures become loose. In addition, they need to be removed at night to provide some rest to the tissues of the mouth.

What exactly is an implant?

An implant is nothing but an artificial dental root which is implanted in the jaws and after the healing period the dentist can attach teeth.

Who can get implants?

Whether implants can really be used in the first place will depend on the technical possibilities the patient’s mouth can offer and a suitable bone base. The smallest implants are about 8 mm long and 3 mm thick.

What can we expect from implants?

Implants are not a better alternative for one’s own teeth and natural teeth are still the best. It can only reinforce loose dentures and avoid grinding of the teeth and at the same time provide for a stable replacement.

What qualifications must a patient have who wishes to receive implants?

The patients who wish to receive implants must be reasonably healthy, and have regular check-ups. Above all, he should be willing to keep his mouth Clean regularly and specifically post implant placement to ensure a long life and success of the implants.

Implants for children

Implants are better not used with children before the age of 15 and should be placed after they have finished growing.

What are the risks with Implants?

If treatment is performed well, the risk of implants are minimal. The dentist will however discuss the risk if there are any with the patient before the operation.

The treatment procedure with implants

The implant surgery is usually performed just like extraction of tooth and antibiotics will be prescribed. For the first week following the operation the patient must closely follow the instructions given by the dentist. The dentist may wait for at least 4 month healing period to ensure adequate integration of the implant before giving a tooth replacement. Check-up at least twice a year may and additional x-rays every 12-18 months may be necessary.

It is advisable to consult the attending dentist when a problem is suspected. Problems recognized at an early stage can always be treated. Problems that are not treated in time may cause loss of implant.

The life span of the implant after it integrates depends on dental hygiene, biting habits, regular check-ups and the patients’ health.

Treatment with implants should be done by an experienced dentist and cost will vary.

How long does an Implant last?

While no implant can be guaranteed to last a lifetime, implants are placed under the assumption that they will last at least five years. Modern implants in a healthy patient, well placed, regularly checked and maintained should last ten years or even longer. If an implant has to be removed, preimplantation can be done after about one year depending on the x-ray and the remaining bone.

Who can do the job and who will pay for it?

Implants are expensive and in principle every dentist is allowed to place implants. However, it requires a great deal of experience to be done successfully and many insurance companies prefer treatment done by a specialist dentist in addition to twice yearly check-ups done expertly. The estimated cost of the implant would vary widely in price depending on the system, the oral situation and also the type of insurance. If financial consequences of the treatment are an issue one can also enquire at a University involved in training students in the placement of implants.




By Dr Shobha Rodrigues
Dr Shobha Rodrigues is a private consultant and Oral Implantologist and professor of Prosthodontics & Implantology in the department of Prosthodontics at the Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Mangaluru.
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Comment on this article

  • Jessy, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 17 2020

    Dear Dr.

    Can you tell me please where is this place in Mangalore



  • Jerome Sequeira, MUMBAI/Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 19 2020

    Thank you so much Dr Shoba for very informative article on dental implant.

  • Jerome Sequeira, MUMBAI/Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 19 2020

    Thank you so much Dr Shoba for very informative article on dental implant.


    Tue, Aug 18 2020

    Informative article. Thanks madam

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Mon, Aug 17 2020

    Very informative and helpful article on this much neglected subject. My interest in implants was aroused by an article on dentistry by Dr. Bennet Anchan whose comprehensive article on dental care was hosted by Daijiworld about two years ago.
    I shifted my dental treatment to his establishment from another clinic where the husband and wife team had an excellent practice but, as in all successful places, people crowded in and senior citizens like me lost patience (or can’t help being impatient)
    My implants have stood by me for two years and I look forward to consulting Dr. Bennet once the Covind situation is over.
    Once again thanks for the authoritative, lucid and helpful article.

  • Alan R, Mangalore

    Mon, Aug 17 2020

    Good information. Thank you.

  • Anil, Mangalore

    Mon, Aug 17 2020

    Informative article . Thanks Dr Shobha

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