Before development of dental implants, dentures were the only alternative to replacing a missing tooth or teeth.
Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants are anchored to the jawbone or metal framework on the bone and act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge. In some cases, implants can be used to attach dentures.
Not everyone is a candidate for a dental implant, however. For a successful implant to take hold, a candidate must have proper bone density and have a strong immune system. In all cases, dental implants require strict oral hygiene.
Implants are so well designed that they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Implants are usually made of a synthetic yet biocompatible material, most commonly, titanium.
Surgery is necessary to prepare the area for an implant and place the implant in the mouth. Following the procedure, a period of time is required for the implant to osseointegrate, or take hold in the bone, and for bone tissue to build up and anchor the device. Following a period of healing, an abutment is then screwed into the implant and is the base for the new restoration.
Placing implants can be done under local anesthesia, and it is common to need an antibiotic after the placement to avoid any infection.
Like any restoration, implants require diligent oral hygiene and proper care to ensure they last a long time.