Dental Implants are available through both the NHS and privately. However the cost of dental implants in the UK means that for many people going private is too expensive making this life-changing procedure unattainable for most.
Dental implants are available on the NHS for people who can demonstrate a clear medical need. This usually applies to people who have had their teeth or face damaged by an accident or through oral cancer.
NHS treatments for implants are potentially available to people who are unable to wear dentures as a fixed alternative. Other patients who may qualify for the treatment include persons who have been born with missing teeth. A child born with a cleft lip and palate would be a prime example of having a clear medical need for dental implants. A person who has lost all their teeth and is below forty years old may also be eligible for treatment.
Dental implants on the NHS are only available under certain circumstances. The Royal College of Surgeons has produced dental implant guidelines for the selection of NHS patients who may be eligible to receive this type of treatment.
The guidelines, written in 1997, consider three main groups of potential patient:
There are a number of medical and dental factors which have be taken into consideration before treatment. These include age and life expectancy, general health, tobacco smoking, available bone and oral hygiene among other factors.
Even if patients don't manage to quality to have dental implants completely subsidised by the NHS they still may be eligible for help with the overall cost of implants. For more information of the specific "bands" of treatment that are covered by the NHS and the help patients can expect with regards to helping with dental implants then it is recommended that patients consult their dentist or consult the "Dental Costs" section of the NHS website for more information and advice.
A dental implant is a substitute for a natural tooth root and a single implant or more can be fixed into the jaw bone with titanium screws to support a bridge, dentures or crowns. However, as each implant is developed and tailored to a persons' specific needs they can take some time to prepare.
Each implant is carefully placed in the precise location of the intended tooth and can often be fitted the same day a tooth has been removed. The time taken to prepare and fit implants will entirely depend upon the complexity of the operation itself but in general it usually takes one to two hours to fit a single implant. The successful fitting of an implant is dependent upon the amount of bone fit for accepting the implant present in the jaw.
Dental implant surgery is successful in over 90% of cases and so long as the implants are well looked after, they can last the rest of a patients' life. The procedure is relatively standard, with minimal risk attached and severe complications rarely occur. These rarely occurring complications include the rejection of the implant, inflammation, infection and damage to nerves however it must be stressed that this only occurs in a small proportion of patients.