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All about dental implants

By by Anne Swart [email protected]

Dr Anne Swart is a Dutch Dental Surgeon, working in the Algarve since 1993. She is the Clinical Director of Alba Dental Health in Lagoa. In this regular column she provides readers with information on all aspects of dental care.

Dental implants have been used for over 50 years as replacements for missing teeth.

They are root devices made of titanium to help support restorations, such as crowns, bridges or dentures. Apart from replacing lost teeth, these implant prosthesis can enhance your speech, appearance and self-esteem.

They are also a better choice than conventional dentures, as they cause neither pain nor do they wobble when you laugh, talk or eat. Since they feel, look and function just like natural teeth, the outcome of your treatment is comfort and convenience you won’t find in usual bridges and dentures.

The procedure is performed in a dental clinic, under local anesthesia. In the first step, a hole is made in the jawbone (where your natural root used to be), then a threaded titanium cylinder is inserted there.

After a few months of healing, the permanent tooth replacement can be connected to this titanium cylinder.

Dental implant retained tooth replacement has several advantages over normal dentures. They are fixed firmly to your jawbone so there is no chance that they might slip out or become loose while you are laughing or talking.

Moreover, as they are as strong as real teeth, you can eat anything you like, including biting on an apple, with implants.

Dental implants can last for as long as 25 years or more, given you visit your dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene. They require the same kind of attention as your own natural teeth.

To keep them for years, regular dental checkups and the right technique to brush and floss is important. Our staff will instruct you about the right procedure and will advise you on how often you should undertake routine checkups and professional cleanings with a dentist or hygienist.

Dental implants were introduced in regular dental practices in the 1980s. In those days the procedure required two surgeries and the use of a temporary denture for at least six months.

In the 1990s, the single surgical process was introduced and due to new implant surfaces the healing times were reduced to 3-4 months.

The procedure was further enhanced by the use of computer-guided techniques.

The first clinical use of computer-guided techniques occurred in 2002. A complete jaw of dental implants can now be precisely placed in an hour or less. Dentists can use virtual 3D planning to create a surgical template and,in selected cases, at the same time fabricate a prosthesis for immediate placement on these implants.

The patient experiences minimal postoperative pain and swelling with this less invasive procedure.

If you’re fit enough to get your tooth extracted, you are also fit to get a dental implant. An implant specialist can help you decide whether you are a good candidate through a comprehensive examination of your mouth, jaws, gums and teeth, as well as your bodily condition.

Dental exams normally include CT scan or X-ray studies, impressions for study models and digital photographs.

For more information about dental implant therapy and other services provided by Dr Anne Swart at Clinica Alba-Lagoa, please call +351 282 341 482.