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Implants are a method of securing an artificial tooth or a denture and have been around for a long time but they only started to be successful about 30 years ago with the introduction of titanium based systems.
Our Practice first used implants around 1995. We usually use Straumann or Astra implants.
In a healthy individual the success will be around 95% and progressively less in certain medical conditions.
Smoking is known to reduce success as is any pre-existing gum disease.
An implants is a titanium screw with various surface finishes that allows it to "attach" to your bone in what is known as "osseointegration"
To this implant, a dentist can attach a series of connectors we call "abutments" and these can then support a crown or a bridge or a denture.
Overall, the concept is very simple and almost "lego-like" however the difficulty ( if there is one) is where the implant is to be placed and whether there is enough bone available to place the implant into.
Unfortunately when we lose a tooth the bone around it starts to disappear as well. This means that a very careful assessment is required before we will carry out these treatments. This always requires a written treatment plan, a clear costing, all of which is based on a clear medical history and an analysis of all those factors that might reduce the 95% success rate.
Implants are expensive. In the UK quotes are given from about £1600 to £2500 per implant on top of which it is sometimes necessary to use some complex x-ray imaging (CT scan) and in case where there is not enough bone, we may suggest that bone augmentation (addition) is required. These all add to the overall costs and the time required to complete.
For a single implant with no complications we advise our patients to think in terms of £2000 to £2,200.
Finally, you will see adverts talking of "immediate teeth". I do not use these as there is no evidence yet that they compare well with more established systems. Again some excellent practitioners will place teeth on implants early and using very specific methods. This works for them but it is not widely accepted.
My experience of the time line is that from the initial decision to investigate the feasibility of an implant to a completely restored tooth takes about 8 months with a theoretical minimum of 4 months.