A dental implant is a titanium post (like a tooth root) that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line that allows your dentist to mount replacement teeth or a bridge into that area. An implant doesn't come loose like a denture can. Dental implants also benefit general oral health because they do not have to be anchored to other teeth, like bridges.
Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces tooth roots with metal, screwlike posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. Dental implant surgery can offer a welcome alternative to dentures or bridgework that doesn't fit well and can offer an option when a lack of natural teeth roots don't allow building denture or bridgework tooth replacements.
How dental implant surgery is performed depends on the type of implant and the condition of your jawbone. Dental implant surgery may involve several procedures. The major benefit of implants is solid support for your new teeth — a process that requires the bone to heal tightly around the implant. Because this bone healing requires time, the process can take many months.
Why it's done
Dental implants are surgically placed in your jawbone, where they serve as the roots of missing teeth. Because the titanium in the implants fuses with your jawbone, the implants won't slip, make noise or cause bone damage the way fixed bridgework or dentures might. And the materials can't decay like your own teeth that support regular bridgework can.
In general, dental implants may be right for you if you:
Have one or more missing teeth
Have a jawbone that's reached full growth
Have adequate bone to secure the implants or are able to have a bone graft
Have healthy oral tissues
Don't have health conditions that will affect bone healing
Are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
Want to improve your speech
Are willing to commit several months to the process
Don't smoke tobacco
Even though Americans can expect to retain their teeth longer, there are approximately 8 million people who are missing all of their teeth in the upper or lower jaw. Conventional partial dentures and dentures can be difficult to wear, making chewing a challenge. The discovery of implant technology and the birth of implant dentistry changed the way lost teeth were treated. Dental implants improve quality of life by improving the way we chew and smile. Patients who wear dentures can now get their teeth back with dental implants.