What are Implants?
An implant is a procedure in which a titanium rod or post is placed in the jaw to replace a missing tooth. When the jaw heals around the implant, the dentist makes a precision connector and a crown to fit over the implant to complete the missing tooth replacement.
Why are Implants Used?
There are several advantages to using an implant compared to other options for tooth replacement. First, an implant can replace a single tooth without negatively impacting the health of the neighboring teeth. This is because an implant looks and functions like a natural tooth. For example, compared to a tooth-supported fixed bridge (another option for the treatment of the loss of a single tooth), an implant does not require the nearby teeth to be ground down to provide support.
Second, an implant better preserves a tooth’s bone because it replaces the tooth’s root and integrates with the jawbone. This is in contrast to a bridge, in which some of the bone that surrounds the tooth can deteriorate over time.
Third, an implant can be more esthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge. Resorbed bone beneath the bridge can negatively impact the smile. Furthermore, the cement holding the bridge in place can wash out; this could allow bacteria to decay the teeth that anchor the bridge.
- The implant, which looks like a screw or cylinder, is placed into the bone.
- The implant and the bone are given time to bond together over a period of 3-6 months, in order to provide an anchor for the crown.
- A replacement tooth, or crown, will be made by the dentist. The crown will then be attached to a metal post, called an abutment.