Oral Health

Updated 15 January 2018

Are tooth implants really the perfect solution?

It is a common fallacy that implants are always the perfect solution for the replacement of a lost tooth. Let’s understand why...


A dental implant is an artificial substitute to provide the root structure of the tooth that has been lost or needs to be replaced.

The success of implant placement depends on the quantity and quality of bone that is available to receive the implant. When a tooth is extracted the implant is placed immediately or relatively soon thereafter, the volume of bone is generally not a problem.

Important considerations

However if there has been a long interval between the loss of tooth and proposed implant placement, the anatomy of the bone foundation may present a problem. When a tooth is extracted, the supporting bone is lost and this loss continues with time.

Another consideration is whether the implant restoration will actually replicate the lost tooth. An implant fixture has a smaller diameter than a natural tooth and therefore limits the anatomy that can be achieved through the construction of an implant crown.

There are complications that sometimes occur. These include a food trap (difficulty in cleansing); screw breakage and loosening; and continued bone loss and implantitis.

A third chance

A major consideration in implant placement is the skill of the operator; the anatomy and availability of the bone foundation; and the appropriate choice of implant system based on the restorative objective that one is trying to achieve.

Implant dentistry has opened up a new world of giving a patient a third chance to enjoy the benefits of a sound healthy dentition.

The first chance is with baby teeth. The second chance is with permanent teeth. The third chance is with implant dentistry.

The clinical evidence supports the long-term success of implant dentistry if well done and if the correct protocol is followed.

Image credit: iStock


Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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