A smile can really change someone’s face and somehow humans have always found a way to lose a tooth or two, whether it be through accidents or cavities. Back in the day, dentures were all the rage; a full set of teeth could be made to replace all your teeth if necessary. These days, dental implants are the way to go.
What are dental implants?
Unlike dentures, dental implants are permanent and remain fixed in your mouth. So, you will not have to worry about your loose dentures falling out of your mouth in the middle of a sudden sneeze. Dental implants are made up of three parts: the titanium screw, abutment (extension of the screw), and the crown or tooth.
Steps of dental implant procedure
- Titanium screws are inserted to replace your tooth roots (where your missing tooth used to be).
- A process called osseointegration will occur and this is when the titanium screws fuse or join with the original bone, thereby securing it to your jaw. This process will occur over a few months.
- The abutment is placed into the titanium screw.
- A tooth or crown will be permanently cemented on the abutment.
The oral and maxillofacial surgeon will place the implant for the patient while the crown will be placed by the dentist.
Are there different types of dental implants?
During your consultation, your oral surgeon will conduct a few necessary checks to determine the right dental implants for you and the best site for implantation; you will have to undergo the following: x-ray, CT-scan, and clinical photographs.
There are 3 different types of dental implants, and each type addresses different needs.
Single Tooth Implant
This is the most commonly used dental implant as only the roots of one tooth needs to be replaced.
Implant Supported Bridge
This implant is used when a row of teeth (up to 6) needs to be replaced. It is a more cost-effective option as opposed to multiple single tooth implants.
Implant Retained/Supported Denture
This implant is used when a patient requires all their teeth replaced.
Benefits of dental implants
Improved smile and confidence- having a beautiful smile can sometimes affect our confidence. With dental implants, your gaps will be filled, and you can smile confidently again.
Improved speech- gaps in your teeth can affect the way you pronounce words. Since dental implants function like normal teeth, you will be able to enunciate and speak clearly.
Supports face structure- when you lose teeth, you also risk bone loss in your jaw, this can cause your face to appear sunken. Dental implants can help prevent that.
Helps teeth alignment- if you have a missing tooth, the neighbouring teeth around might tilt or even loosen over time. Dental implants will help keep your other healthy teeth in place.
Long-lasting- Dental implants can last for years if done by experienced and competent oral surgeons.
Easy maintenance- you can chew, brush, floss, and rinse your dental implants like normal teeth. And just like your normal teeth, visit your dentist every 6 months for regular cleaning.
Is the cost of dental implants claimable from Medisave?
Singaporeans and permanent residents can use their Medisave to cover approximately $1250 of the cost of their dental implants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I too old for dental implants?
There is no maximum age limit for dental implants. If you are healthy enough for a tooth extraction, you are eligible for dental implants.
Are dental implants painful?
If you engage a competent and experienced oral surgeon for your dental implant procedure, your experience should be smooth, efficient, and relatively comfortable.
How long can dental implants last?
Dental implants can last 20-30 years if you take care of them properly. Remember to brush, floss, and visit your dentist every 6 months for regular cleaning. Take care of them like you would your normal teeth and they can last a long time.
Can I get a same-day replacement for my missing tooth?
Once the titanium screw is placed; it usually takes a few months for it to fuse with the jawbone. However, if necessary, a temporary prosthetic tooth or immediate denture can be placed on the same day as the titanium screw.
What if there is not enough bone for a dental implant?
If you do not have enough bone, bone grafting will be done to add some structural support for a dental implant.