What happens during a dental implant consultation?
Many patients continue to face a Dental Implant consultation for the very first time. During this consultation our objective is to find the most suitable long term solution for our patients. When replacing missing teeth we always consider the 3 main options which are: Dental Implants, Dental Bridges and Removable Dentures. In most cases the Dental Implant option is the best solution however, there are many different approaches to having a dental implant and the consultation aims to find the correct clinical strategy for the patient.
Number of missing teeth
The number of missing teeth is a key element in the overall planning of dental implants. Multiple missing teeth which are adjacent to each other can actually be replaced with fewer dental implants if planned correctly. The favoured approach in many cases is to link fewer implants with an implant supported bridge in such a scenario. The occlusal (bite) relationship between the 2 arches is a key consideration when considering whether an implant bridge would work in the long term.
The biotype of the gums is one of the most important factors when planning implant treatment. In simple terms there are 3 types of gum tisssue: thick, medium and thin. Patients with a thin biotype are more likely to suffer from gum recession across their whole mouth, natural teeth and implant teeth included. Those with a medium biotype (most patients) will have a more ‘normal’ risk of gum recession. A ‘normal’ risk means that they are vulnerable to the usual causative factors that result in gum disease such as poor oral hygiene, smoking and certain dietary and environmental factors. A patient with a thick biotype is generally the least vulnerable to gum recession. They are not immune to this however, their risk status is much lower than the other 2 groups.
Each patient’s biotype is assessed at the consultation so that we can decide whether they require a connective tissue (gum) graft alongisde their implant treatment. A connective tissue graft has the potential to convert ‘thin’ biotype gums into gum that behaves more like a ‘medium’ or even ‘thick’ biotype. This is very important if we are aiming to maxmise the lifespan of dental implants and minimise future recession.
The amount of bone available in the area where the dental implant needs to be situated is also very important. This information is carefully assessed using a 3-dimensional CBCT scan which enables our team to thoroughly assess the bone volume. In many patients, toothloss often results in bone loss. Likewise, tooth loss may actually have been a result of bone loss. For these reasons, in most patients a bone augmentation (graft) is required alongside treatment to have the dental implant. This will enable us to increase the volume of bone and ensure that the dental implant is positioned in a strong long term foundation of good quality bone.
Both the connective tissue (gum) graft and the bone augmentation (graft) are often provided at the very same procedure as having the dental implant. This is why thorough planning at the consultation allows our team to plan treatment that is both efficient and stable in the long term for our patients.
The potential aesthetic appearance of the replacement tooth or teeth is also assessed at the consultation. We look at any exisitng teeth and ask our patients if they want to conform to the same design and charecteristics of their own teeth. Alternatively, the patient can decide to have their existing teeth improved to enhance the overall appearance of their smile.
On the whole a consultation for dental implant treatment is very different to a general routine dental examination. A dental implant consultation includes all the features of a routine dental assessment as well as all the key criteria required to be able to plan this treatment for patients. The CBCT scan helps us leave no stone unturned therefore, we can truly plan the proposed surgical options for our patients with an immensely high level of accuracy. All of our patients are then provided a dental report discussing all of the finding from their consultation as well as their options in detail.
The more thorough we are during our planning stages then the less likely we are to encounter problems along the way.
Thank you for reading,
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