Glossary

The information in this guide is intended to provide an overview of routine dental implant treatment. Treatment plans involving dental implants are unique for each individual and accordingly the timing, cost and delivery of care will be customized for you by The Implant Experts.

If anything is puzzling you and you cannot find it below then please do not hesitate to give us a call.

Abutment

An abutment is the component which attaches the implant to the definitive tooth restoration.

Barrier membrane

A membrane which is draped over a bone defect or bone graft to allow bone healing to occur without the ingress of soft tissue which could compromise the healing process.

Bone augmentation

This is the placement of either natural or synthetic bone material to an area where natural bone is deficient. This may be performed at the time of implant placement, or as a separate procedure prior to implant placement.

Bone resorption

Bone resorption is the loss of height and/or width of bone in either upper or lower jaws. This process occurs throughout life, but is accelerated in locations where tooth loss has occurred.

Bridge

A bridge is a method of replacing a missing tooth or teeth by means of artificial teeth attached to other natural teeth or dental implants. Bridges may be glued in place (adhesive bridges) or supported by crown preparations (conventional bridges) and may be constructed of a variety of materials.

Bruxism

The clenching or grinding of teeth at times other than eating.

Calculus

Hard deposits around teeth sometimes referred to as tartar. Calculus is the result of calcification of plaque around teeth, and can be prevented by rigorous attention to good oral hygiene measures. Once calculus has formed, it is difficult to remove, and in most cases this would involve the services of a dental therapist or hygienist.

Complete arch

A complete arch is referring to the teeth of the whole of the upper jaw or lower jaw.

Consultation

An appointment with the dentist to discuss possible treatment options. The appointment may include an examination, x-rays and photographs along with open discussion and explanation where appropriate.

Crown

A crown is any form of restoration which covers the entire exposed surface of a tooth, and can be made of a variety of materials, including porcelain, porcelain bonded to metal and gold. Most crowns in visible areas of the mouth are white in colour.

CBCT scan

Cone Beam Computed Tomography scan is an advanced x-ray technique that produces three-dimensional images of the jawbone. These images may only be viewed on a computer screen, since they are three dimensional in nature.

Definitive restorations

The definitive restoration is the term used for the final implant-supported crown, bridge or denture in the course of treatment. The restoration will need periodic maintenance work and in a small number of cases may need to be replaced.

Dental anaesthetics

Anaesthesia means without sensation (Greek), and this includes pain. Today most dental anaesthetics are by means of a simple injection into the area being worked on. More rarely procedures may be carried out whilst you are asleep; this is referred to as a general anaesthetic.

Dental implant

A dental implant is a man made ‘tooth root’. Most implants are made of metal, titanium or titanium alloys, the latter being the most common. Implants are placed into jawbones surgically, and may ultimately support crowns and bridges or be used to stabilize dentures.

Dentures

Dentures are removable false teeth custom-made to each patient. They are usually made from acrylic or a combination of acrylic and cobalt chromium.

Extraction

A dental extraction is the removal of a tooth or teeth.

Extraction site

The space/gap remaining after tooth removal.

Functioning implants

A functioning implant is an implant or implants which bears some kind of dental restoration, be it a crown, bridge or denture, and is capable of chewing.

Guided tissue regeneration

A procedure designed to enhance soft tissue (gum) healing and may be used to improve the cosmetic effects around teeth or crowns.

Gum disease

Disease of the soft tissues around teeth. Superficial gum inflammation is generally referred to as gingivitis; it is a response to accumulation of plaque, and in most cases may be resolved by rigorous oral hygiene measures.

Immediate loading

Providing a temporary crown or bridge simultaneous with the placement of the implant. This treatment is not suitable for all patients.

Inferior dental nerve

Sometimes referred to as the inferior alveolar nerve, this runs within a bony canal in the lower jaw and supplies sensation to the lower teeth, before emerging from bone as the mental nerve which supplies sensation to the lower lip.

Integrate/Integrated/Integration

This means to bond or fuse together.

Interdental toothbrushes

An interdental small brush, often just one tuft of ‘bristles’. This is particularly useful for cleaning between teeth and around implants and may be used as an alternative to floss.

Maxillary sinus

A hollow air filled space situated above the upper premolar teeth. This varies in size from individual to individual and gets larger throughout life.

Molars

The last three upper and lower teeth on both sides of the mouth.

Onlay grafting

Where bone is taken from elsewhere in the body, i.e. hip (rarely), chin or behind the molars, and secured to the area where bone is deficient.

Osseointegration

Osseointegration is where the implant and bone bond or fuse together, and typically takes several weeks to months.

Periodontal disease

Unchecked gingivitis may progress with time to a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis; this involves loss of bone, and may compromise the survival of a tooth or teeth.

Plaque

Plaque is a soft sticky, colourless film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth and gums and can harden into calculus if not removed daily be effective oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing, etc.

Premolars

The two teeth located in front of the molars on both sides of the mouth.

Reline procedure

Reline procedure is where a soft or hard material is used to correct the fitting surface of a denture after an extraction or surgery.

Removable overdenture

A denture which is supported by implants but is removable by the patient for cleaning purposes.

Restorations

The restoration is a filling, crown, bridge or denture. It effectively restores the tooth/teeth for functional use.

Restorative phase/appointment

This follows the surgical phase of the treatment regime, usually after a suitable degree of healing, typically a few weeks to a few months. In most cases this will involve the taking of impressions thus allowing the technician(s) to fabricate the definitive restoration.

Sinus augmentation

A surgical procedure where bone regenerative material is inserted into the sinus to encourage for formation of new bone to increase the height of bone available to accommodate implant placement.

Sterile conditions

Sterility in this context means the removal of bacterial contamination. Realistically we never manage to achieve absolute sterility; however, we must always aim to get as close as we can to a sterile working environment. This will include the use of autoclaves to sterilize all non-disposable instruments, along with drapes and gowns to isolate working surfaces and personnel.

Titanium

This is a biocompatible metal from which implants are manufactured. Titanium has been used for medical procedures, including hip replacements, for decades.

Treatment plan

A written detailed report on the patient’s dental implant procedure, including proposed treatment time-frame and costs.