Dental implants

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root. It is a small titanium screw which is fitted directly into the bone in your jaw. The implant is a foundation for artificial teeth or bridges. Over time the jawbone will fuse with the implant so it’s fixed strongly in place. This is called osseointegration.

HSSH consultant Natasha Berridge at desk with a patient

Why are dental implants necessary?

Dental implants can be necessary if you’ve lost a tooth or teeth from decay or trauma. They have many benefits, including creating a solid structure which is integrated with your bone and permanent stability. For example, dental implants are stronger than bridges which are secured to surrounding teeth.

Dental implants can be used to replace missing teeth (one tooth with a single crown, two or more teeth with a bridge) or to support dentures.

If you don’t have enough bone to support an implant, you may need to have a bone augmentation procedure such as a sinus lift to build bone. Most augmentation procedures involved bone grafts which add bone to the jaw and provide a firm base for the implant.

A bone graft replaces missing bone in your jaw with bone grafting material. As the natural bone grows, it absorbs the graft material which becomes fully integrated into your bone.

A sinus lift adds bone to your upper jaw by lifting the sinus membrane so that there is room for the artificial bone.

How are dental implants inserted?

The procedure to insert dental implants is usually performed under local anaesthetic, with sedation if required.

The implants are generally inserted into a bespoke hole drilled into the jawbone. Sometimes the implant can be placed directly into the hole left by extracted roots but this is rare.

There are several stages to the procedure:

  • The gums are cut so that a thick band of tissue is left around the new implant following the surgery
  • A pilot hole is drilled with a low-speed drill
  • A larger hole is created with a high-speed drill
  • The implant is screwed into the bone and the wound is stitched up

The drilling can take place over seven progressive stages to ensure there isn’t any damage to the cells of the bone. Heat and pressure from the drilling can cause the surrounding bone cells to die.

The implant is inserted then left for three to six months so the bone grow arounds the implant. A temporary bridge or denture may be fitted to cover the gap during this time. You will then have further surgery to fix the new tooth in place on the dental implant.

What are the possible complications of dental implants?

As with any surgery there is a risk of complications from dental implants.

These include:

The jawbone doesn’t fuse with the implant – if this happens the implant will be weak and unsupported. Further surgery will be needed to remove the implant and replace it. Or another method may be used to fit the crown or bridge.

Nerve damage – drilling into the jawbone, particularly the lower jaw, can cause damage to nerves for the tongue, chin and lips. You may feel a numbness in these areas which can be temporary or permanent.

How long will it take to recover from a dental implant procedure?

You may experience some swelling of your gums and face following the procedure, and there may be pain in the area around the implant.

There may be some bruising of the skin on your face which can take up to two weeks to go.

If necessary, your consultant will give you painkillers and a course of antibiotics.

Why choose Harley Street Specialist Hospital?

At Harley Street Specialist Hospital, you can expect:

  • Our team of expert oral and maxillofacial surgeons to offer rapid assessment and the latest treatments in comfortable central London surroundings, as well as video consultations from the comfort of your own home.
  • Holistic care, where you are an equal partner in the creation of your individualised treatment plan.
  • State of the art diagnostic imaging – you don’t need to go elsewhere as we have in house CBCT, X-ray, ultrasound and image intensifiers.
  • Day-case and outpatient investigations and surgical procedures in a modern clinical setting.
  • No waiting lists and your treatment can take place at a convenient time for you.

We welcome patients with private medical insurance or those wishing to pay for their own treatment.

Our dental implants consultants