How ‘Realistic’ Are Dental Implants?

Purley dentist, Dr Tushar Patel, looks at this procedure from the perspective of a patient.

As we have discussed in previous blogs, dental implants offer the most secure, strong and stable of all current tooth replacement methods. Whilst they might be more expensive initially, over time they represent good value for money for patients who are looking for a long term resolution to missing teeth.

One question that we do get asked quite a lot at our Purley dentists clinic is how realistic do dental implants both look and feel?

What is an implant?

Although this is a basic question, it is important that patients understand that a dental implant is, technically speaking, just the titanium screw-like implement that is placed into the jaw. This is the part which, in effect, replicates the lost tooth root and allows us to build an effective and strong replacement tooth.

When patients talk about a dental implant procedure, they are usually referring to the completed restoration which includes the addition of an abutment and a crown to replace the visible part of the tooth. Used together, these three components offer patients a first class tooth replacement.

What do they look like?

People often have teeth replaced in order to eat more easily. It is not the only reason though, and, where a tooth has been lost in a very visible position, such as the front of the mouth, it is quite natural that they will also want any replacement tooth to look as natural as possible.

To this end, some people will opt to have dentures. Modern dentures are greatly improved on their predecessors, especially where appearance is concerned. Many patients are very happy with these initially, but, as time passes, the sometimes inconvenience of dentures becomes more apparent and they may decide to look at alternatives.

Another option is a dental bridge which also look natural, at least initially. As they age though, they can start to look a little jaded and may stand out from the rest of your teeth. A bridge also relies on the integrity of the supporting teeth, and when these fail, so can the bridge. This is especially the case where the patient has not kept them as clean as they should.

On appearance alone, dental implants win hands down. There is an initial period whilst the titanium root integrates with the bone, where you will still have a gap between the teeth. But in the typical twenty year plus lifespan of an implant though, this is insignificant, and once completed, your new ‘dental implant tooth’ will be indistinguishable from your natural teeth.

Making it look natural

Whilst the titanium implant is the most critical part of this procedure, as far as the patient is concerned it is the crown that will be the part that others see when they smile.  The crowns supplied at the Confidental Clinic are of a very high quality and we will also make sure to provide a crown that matches in both style and colour, with the rest of your teeth.

Patients should be aware that the crowns provided will not stain to the same extent as a natural tooth. This is important for anyone who is considering a tooth whitening procedure, and we recommend that you discuss this with our cosmetic dentist if you currently have an implant.

Both for health and aesthetic reasons, you should brush around the implant well. Doing so will not only reduce the risk of gum disease and other oral health issues which could threaten the implant, but will also remove surface staining too. As your natural teeth may stain, especially if you smoke or eat tooth staining foods and drinks, we also recommend that you have your teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist every six months or so; possibly more frequently if you smoke.  This is a great way to maintain optimal gum health but will also mean that you will be more easily able to maintain a consistent whiteness that allows the implant to blend in well.

How do they feel?

As you might expect, when your new implant is completed, it can feel a little strange. After all, you will have had a gap there for at least three months and possibly longer. We are good at adapting to situations like this, so, when a replacement tooth suddenly closes this gap, we might find that it feels a little odd.

To help with this, we advise avoiding hard foods initially as it helps patients to adapt to the feel of their new implant and is also more comfortable whilst healing occurs. You may then start to gradually return to your normal diet. Within a short period of time, most patients almost forget that they have an implant and find that the tooth not only looks perfectly natural, but feels natural too.

Even cleaning the teeth feels ‘normal’ and you should clean them as you would your regular teeth, with good quality brushing and flossing, and, of course, routine cleaning by the hygienist.

If you would like to find out more about how dental implants can benefit you if you have lost a tooth, or a number of teeth, we offer a free initial consultation where this can be discussed. If you would look to arrange one, please call the Confidental Clinic in Purley on 020 8660 8923.