Dental implants are man-made (artificial) replacements for your tooth roots. We put them into the bone of your jaw. They help to support:
- dentures (false teeth)
- crowns (caps on top of damaged teeth)
- bridges (structures to bridge or fill the gap where 1 or more teeth are missing)
Implants are long-lasting replacements for your tooth roots if you care for them properly.
Qualified dentists fit your dental implant. These dentists are consultants, specialists or postgraduate students. A consultant is responsible for your care, but more than 1 dentist might treat you.
Having a dental implant
Having a dental implant usually involves 3 or 4 stages:
- A pre-operative assessment.
- Bone grafting (a procedure to increase the amount of bone in your jaw for supporting the implant). Not everyone needs this.
- Putting in your implant.
- Fitting your crown, bridges or denture (restorative treatment).
Each stage might involve several visits to your dentist at the hospital. In total, your treatment could take 6 to 12 months. Your dental team explains your planned treatment.
You might have sedation (a medicine to make you feel sleepy and relaxed) or a general anaesthetic (a medicine to make you sleep). Your dental team gives you information about this before your treatment.
Preparing to have a dental implant
It is important to tell your dental team about any problems with your health and any tablets or medicines that you take. Some medical conditions change the advice and information that we need to give you.
We strongly recommend that you try to stop smoking and remain a non-smoker in the long term. This lowers your risk of some complications with dental implants.
For help to give up smoking, please speak to your nurse or call our stop smoking service on 020 7188 0995.
Benefits of dental implants
You have dental implants when your dentist does not want to put crowns (caps) on healthy teeth. Implants are also useful if dentures or bridges would be difficult or impossible because there are no suitable teeth or gums to support them.
Risks of dental implants
There is a small risk that the dental implants might not join properly with the bone in your jaw. We then cannot use them. This risk is higher for some people, including those who smoke. The dental team tells you if they think that the risk is higher than normal for you.
Parts of your implant can loosen or wear out with time. This can lead to the implant not working if the problem is not treated quickly.
You are responsible for the long-term care of your implants. Your local dentist can look after your dental implants. This is at your own cost.
If you have a bone graft, this can cause swelling, bruising and pain.
Giving your permission (consent)
We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to have a dental implant, we ask you to sign a consent form. This says that you agree to have the treatment and understand what it involves.
If you would like more information about our consent process, please speak to a member of staff caring for you.
Other treatment options
The treatment options are different for each person. Your dental team talks to you about the treatment option that is best for you. This might be:
- not having any treatment
- preparing other teeth for crowns or bridges
- having a different design of denture