Dental implants are a long-lasting solution for people whose loose and missing teeth or dentures make it difficult to eat without worry, or make them self-conscious about their smile. The closest thing to natural teeth, dental implants can restore your ability to bite and chew normally and give you back a beautiful-looking smile. This guide explains what dental implants are, who they are suitable for and what you should bear in mind when considering dental implant treatment.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants replace the root of decayed or missing teeth with a screw-like titanium posts that are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Artificial teeth can then be fixed onto the implants. This treatment can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or a whole arch (jaw of teeth). Replacement of a full arch of teeth, whether of the upper or lower jaws, is sometimes known as full jaw restoration or full mouth restoration.

What are dental implants made of?

Pure titanium dental implants give the best, longest-lasting results as they fuse with your jawbone more reliably than those made from cheaper alloys. Titanium is extremely lightweight and strong, and is “biocompatible”, which means that the surrounding living bone can fuse with the implant. The artificial teeth attached to implants are usually made from hard-wearing ceramic or composite materials that can be colour-matched and shaped to look like natural teeth.

structure-of-the-dental-implant

The Benefits of Dental Implants

    • The teeth are fixed securely onto the implants, so unlike dentures or dental plates they won’t slip or move in your mouth
    • Unlike bridges, no adjacent teeth need to be ground down to hold the new teeth in place
    • They look and function just like natural teeth
    • They are a permanent dental solution
  • Advanced techniques such as Smile in a Day (Teeth in a Day) same-day implants offer a solution to people previously told they are not suitable for implant treatment

“I can now eat any type of food without fear of losing more teeth, and I can smile and talk to people without feeling awkward.”

John, TDC Patient

Who are they suitable for?

Most adults can be fitted with dental implants for one or more teeth, according to the Association of Dental Implantology. More advanced treatments, sometimes referred to as same-day implants or Teeth in a Day mean that implants can now be an option for people with extreme bone loss or gum disease.

What does the procedure involve and how long does it take?

Traditional implant treatments often take several months or more as they require multiple procedures, such as the extraction of any diseased teeth, bone grafting and then the placement of the dental implants, with healing time required after each stage. Removable dentures usually have to be worn after surgery while the implant fuses with the jawbone, after which the new teeth can be attached.

More experienced dental teams may offer same-day implant techniques such as TDC Smile in a Day where only one surgical procedure is required as extractions and the implant surgery are performed on the same day. Bone grafting is rarely needed. The temporary teeth attached on the day of surgery remain fixed in place during the healing phase and are exchanged for the final permanent set once the gums
have healed after about three months. This means you do not need to wear a removable denture while your gums heal and you are never without teeth.

How long do they last?

Dental implants are designed last a lifetime if they are correctly placed, high-quality materials are used and you care for them properly. Long-term success rates depend upon maintaining a good oral hygiene programme at home and going for regular dental check-ups – just as with natural teeth.
It is also advisable to quit smoking.

Will having dental implants placed hurt?

Patients are often surprised at how little discomfort they experience. Depending on the extent of the treatment, most people have a local anaesthetic and some may also opt for sedation, which doesn’t have the risks and side-effects associated with a general anaesthetic. Sedation aids relaxation and makes the procedure feel as if it’s over in minutes. Post-surgery, over-the-counter painkillers are often all that’s required to remain comfortable.

As with any dental surgical procedure, a degree of swelling and bruising is normal after surgery. Some patients take a bit of time to get used to the feeling of having new teeth in their mouth and may occasionally bite their cheeks, lips or tongue when chewing for a period after treatment. It is important to avoid drinking alcohol and using tobacco products as they can delay healing, cause post-operative pain and have a negative effect on the success of the overall treatment.

Where should I consider having dental implants done?

Dental implants can be a safe and convenient solution to loose and missing teeth and dentures. It’s a significant investment in your well-being and there can be a bewildering number of providers, both in the UK and abroad. It is always advisable to carefully research your prospective dental implant team and to read reviews to learn what previous patients say about their experience.

Visit the General Dental Council website to look up registered dentists and specialist dentists. Members of the Association of Dental Implantology (ADI) can be searched here.

Once you have checked that you are dealing with a well-qualified team, ask what is included in the treatment package to ensure there are no unexpected extra costs along the way.

This comparison and checklist will help you ask the right questions so you can choose the dental implant team that’s right for you.

UK-based dental
implant clinics

Features

  • Full focus on dental implant treatment – no routine dentistry offered.
  • Practitioners are required to be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) and hence adhere to high standards of professional competence.
  • Dental teams will be routinely placing implants

Checklist

  • Check the experience and qualifications of the team and the surgeon who will be performing your procedure. A good clinic will be able to back up its claims with a portfolio of the clients it has successfully treated.
  • Check what’s included in the cost before you start treatment. Low advertised prices may be tempting but there are often unexpected additional costs incurred during treatment.

General dentists

Features

  • Your implant will be done by a dentist you may already know.
  • You will be treated locally.
  • Practitioners are required to be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) and hence adhere to high standards of professional competence.

Checklist

  • Check the experience and qualifications of the team and the surgeon who will be performing your procedure. A good clinic will be able to back up its claims with a portfolio of the clients it has successfully treated.
  • Check what’s included in the cost before you start treatment. Low advertised prices may be tempting but there are often unexpected additional costs incurred during treatment.

Overseas
implant clinics

Features

  • Dental implants are often cheaper than in the UK.
  • Practitioners may not be officially regulated at all or, if they are, may not be regulated to UK standards.
  • Some offer UK-based consultations with treatment abroad.
  • Some provide accommodation for patients after treatment, others may require patients to make their own accommodation arrangements during the aftercare phase.

Checklist

  • Review this checklist to ensure you are paying the price you expect.
  • Factor in flights, accommodation, meals and spending money for each time you need to see your dental implant team.
  • Budget for additional costs in case you need to return abroad to have remedial work after your treatment is completed.
  • Check whether English is spoken it is important that you can communicate clearly with your clinical and patient care team, especially if you have questions or concerns.

Dental implant costs – why do they vary so much?

With so many different costs being quoted both in the UK and abroad, it can be difficult to know what you can expect to pay for dental implant treatment. Is lowest price a priority for you, or do you want the assurance and peace of mind that you are in safe hands? Whether you need a single implant for mainly cosmetic reasons, or require a full jaw restoration, here are some things to bear in mind.

    • Dental implants are a life-long investment

      As they restore your ability to smile without feeling self-conscious and enable you to bite and chew normally, they will significantly enhance your wellbeing and quality of life. What’s more, in the long run implants can often work out to be a lot less expensive than multiple dental visits. That’s why it pays to make the financial commitment to get a dental implant team you can trust to deliver long-lasting and worry-free results. Remember that you’ll need to look after your new teeth, just as you would your natural teeth.

    • Lower costs may mean inferior results

      Don’t choose your dental implant team based on cost alone. In the hands of a skilled and experienced dental implant team, implant placement is a safe and life-changing procedure but a less experienced team may mean you’ll have to have remedial treatment if things go wrong. Seek out information on the number and quality of implants a prospective dental implant clinic or dentist has placed, as well as their ability to deal with more complex cases and procedures such as zygomatic (cheekbone) implants. Check the guarantee to ensure that any treatment problems will be handled competently.

    • Check whether your UK dentist is registered with the General Dental Council (GDC)

      This will ensure that he or she adheres to certain standards. Specialist Periodontists – dentists who specialise in the area of dentistry concerning the gums, roots and bone surrounding the teeth, as well as the placement of dental implants – are required to undertake three further years of specific training after finishing their dental degree before they can register as a Specialist with the GDC.

    • Dental services abroad may not be regulated by a professional body

      Treatment overseas may be less expensive but, as the NHS cautions, anyone considering dental treatment abroad should research prospective dental implant clinics carefully and be aware of potential risks.

    • The quality of patient care matters

      It’s important to have a dental implant team that you can trust as a high standard of patient care can make a big difference to your experience. Choosing a team who will take the time to get to know you and answer all your questions will give you real peace of mind, especially if you are a nervous patient. Most clinics offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your personal dental needs and requirements– use it to see if you feel at ease and well looked after, and whether the clinic is professionally run.

  • Up-to-date clinics use advanced technology and clinical techniques

    Use of the latest technology such as CT scans and 3-D modelling of your jaw is a good indicator that an implant clinic will be able to fully and correctly assess your individual needs, and carefully plan your surgery. Advanced techniques such as same-day implants are becoming more widely available, so research your chosen team to ensure it has the qualifications and experience to perform them safely. Check that they are using an industry-accepted technique with proven results.

  • All implants aren’t of equal quality

    Not all implants are equal – high quality implants cost more than lower quality implants. The quality of titanium used and processing methods can vary greatly between different implant manufacturers. Poor quality of materials and processing can lead to more implant failures in both the short and long term. The Clean Implant Foundation was created to regularly initiate objective analysis of the production quality of dental implants so check which implants your dentist uses, whether they have received the Clean Implant Trusted Quality Mark, and their results.

  • Beware hidden costs

    Pricing depends on many factors including, of course, the specific treatment that you need. Make sure you are fully aware of any additional costs that may be incurred once treatment has begun. Unexpected charges for consultations, X-rays, CT scans, dental impressions, sedation, all parts of the implant (root, abutment, crown/bridge/denture), surgical procedures and follow-up visits can significantly increase the amount you originally thought you would have to pay. Reputable clinics will provide you with a detailed treatment plan outlining the details, risks and benefits of your proposed implant procedure for you to sign before treatment begins. This should include a full outline of costs.

  • Factor in travel costs

    If you decide to go abroad for your implants, budget for the costs of travelling (transport, accommodation, meals, spending money) to the original appointment and follow-up appointments, including any extra trips you’d have to make should you need additional aftercare or remedial work.

  • Results and reputation are key

    Research your prospective dental team carefully. Genuine reviews are a good indicator of results, customer satisfaction and investment value so visit independent online review sites such as Feefo and Trustpilot to find unedited and independent patient reviews. And visit online forums to talk to other patients about their personal experiences at the implant clinics where they’ve been treated.

“I had forgotten what I looked like until I saw the “before” photos as I’m now so used to seeing and being a smiling confident person!”

Helen, TDC Patient