Frequently Asked Questions

1What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a titanium replacement for the root of a missing, weak, or damaged tooth. The implant is surgically inserted into the jawbone, and an artificial crown is permanently attached to the top of the implant. The implant can be used to replace a single missing tooth, or a number of missing teeth can be replaced with a bridge attached to a smaller number of implants. From the late 1980s to the early 2000s a surgical protocol called the “All-On-4™” procedure was developed, allowing a full 12-tooth bridge to be placed on the upper or lower jaw supported by 4 implants, allowing a full dental arch to be replaced.
2What are the benefits of dental implants?
Implants effectively replace missing teeth as though the original tooth has been restored. They look, feel and function like natural teeth. The only alternative treatments for missing teeth are fixed or non-fixed bridges, which inevitably result in damage to neighbouring teeth so they can support the bridge, or removable dentures which many patients find intolerable due to a lack of stability. It is worth noting that even patients who have had dentures for many years can be eligible for implants to support their conventional denture, or All-On-4™ dental implants, which are a much more stable, comfortable option though they are more expensive.
3What is the procedure for having a dental implant?

Careful planning is required before any treatment begins. This specialised treatment involves clinicians working closely together along with a dental laboratory.

Placing a single implant is usually a short procedure that can be carried out under local anaesthesia in the dental chair and involves drilling a preparatory hole into which the implant is placed. It usually necessary to then wait for up to three months, during which the bone form a bond with the implant. Subsequently, an impression of the implant and the patient’s bite is next taken and a custom crown is created and permanently fixed to the implant. Multiple implants may sometimes be installed under general anaesthesia as a day surgery procedure. Following a waiting period of three to four months, during which the titanium becomes bonded to the bone, the missing teeth or dental implant bridges can be attached.

4Are there any complications in having dental implants?
All surgical procedures (dental or otherwise) carry a risk of potential complications. With careful planning and preparation, complications are unlikely. However, the likelihood of any risks associated with individual procedures is thoroughly assessed according to each patient and discussed with them beforehand.
5Is dental implant treatment expensive?
When the initial cost of implant treatment is measured against the long-term success rate, and compared with alternative treatments, dental implant costs should be viewed as a long-term economic investment.
6What happens if an implant fails?
If the titanium implant fails to integrate with the bone, it can almost always be replaced with a new one, though cases of failed implants are rare. Dr Ferguson will usually replace failed implants at no additional cost to the patient.
7Are there any limitations in having a dental implant?
Some medical conditions can limit the likelihood of success of dental implant treatment. It is also necessary for adequate bone to be available. In some cases, bone grafts can assist in augmenting the bone in order for implants to be placed.
8What is the All-On-4™ dental implant protocol?

In the late 1980’s a group of dentists lead by Dr Paulo Malo wanted to find an optimal treatment solution for total edentulism, that is the complete lack of any teeth in either the upper or lower jaw (maxilla and mandible respectively). After some years of research and clinical testing, the All-on-4 surgical protocol was developed. It involves placing four titanium dental implants into the bone in predetermined positions. An impression is then made of the implants, and sent to a laboratory to have a custom 12-tooth bridge made. This may be initially a temporary bridge (set of teeth) followed at a later stage by the final bridge. The bridges may be either fixed permanently to the implants with screws, or alternatively held on the implants with strong clips so the bridges may be removed for cleaning.

9How long has the All-On-4™ dental implant procedure been performed?

The All-On-4™ procedure was developed in Europe from the late 1980s and was developed throughout the 1990s before being perfected in the early. It has since been adopted in many countries world-wide and is becoming increasingly popular.

10If I cannot have dental implants, do I have any other choices?

Another option for people suffering from severe tooth loss includes is called over dentures. These are generally more affordable, as they do not involve the requirement for implants, but do generally require at least two remaining healthy teeth.

11Will I need to have bone grafts for my implants?

This depends entirely on the patient. Some patients, due to gum disease or hereditary factors, will either have a lack of bone mass or structurally weak bone tissue. Sometimes bone grafts can resolve these issues and allow implants to be installed after a healing period, however sometimes these issues can’t be rectified, and alternative treatments need to be considered.

12With All-On-4™ dental implants will I have my permanent teeth in the first few days?

The initial temporary set of teeth is relatively inexpensive compared to the final set, and the purpose is to ensure that the shape, color, size and position of teeth are satisfactory to you.

13How painful is dental implant treatment?

The pain associated with dental implant placement varies from patient to patient. You will feel no pain at all during the procedure, as you will be under either local or general anaesthesia. However, after the surgery, some dull pain or aches are expected, and can be treated with over the counter pain medication.

14What is a dental prosthetist?

A dental prosthetist is a dental technician who has undertaken advanced training in order to treat patients who require a range of tooth replacement options, such as dentures and overdentures. When providing these services, dental prosthetists sometimes work with surgical specialists as a team when planning and providing treatment.

15What is a Prosthodontist?
A Prosthodontist is a registered dental specialist who undertakes restorative or cosmetic treatment which includes crowns, bridges, veneers, cosmetic tooth treatments, and implant-supported crowns and bridges.
16Why has my dentist recommended wisdom teeth removal?

Wisdom teeth (third molar teeth) are the last teeth to develop and erupt into the mouth but sometimes there is insufficient space in the modern jaw to fit them in. As a result they may cause a variety of problems, including infection and damage or decay to adjacent teeth.

The most common when there is no space for the wisdom teeth is impaction, which means that the tooth is growing in an awkward position and can cause damage to neighbouring teeth. This issue affects perhaps half of all wisdom teeth.

17My friends have had oral surgery for wisdom teeth removal in a Melbourne hospital under an anaesthetic. Is it safe?

Modern anaesthesia techniques have an outstanding safety record in Australia and the combination of the drugs used during anaesthesia for wisdom teeth extractions will result in most patients having a very safe and comfortable experience. Some patients may experience some complications, due to other medical issues, excess weight, or allergies to anaesthetic – though these are extremely rare, and you will be tested thoroughly for any potential risks prior to surgery.

To schedule an appointment with Dr Ferguson at his Melbourne practices in Box Hill and Bulleen please call (03) 9898 1877 or enquire online at [email protected]