Dental implants are an option for replacing missing or badly diseased teeth. Implants are manufactured “anchors” that replace natural tooth roots that look like cylinders or screws. They are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the body. They attach to the natural jaw bone and gum tissue and can be a stable base for crowns, bridges, or dentures. Patients must be in good overall health and have healthy gum and bone tissue.
- The dentist surgically places the implant in the jaw with the top of the implant slightly above the top of the bone. A cover is placed over the implant to protect it during the healing phase. This healing phase lasts approximately three to six months and it begins to fuse to the bone, a process called “osseointegration.”
- The second stage of the implant process is to uncover the healed implant and attach a post, or extension, to the implant. The gum tissue is again allowed to heal for several months around the post. On occasion steps one and two of implant placement are combined into one step.
- The third and final step of the implant is making a crown, bridge, or denture to replace one or several missing teeth.
Other tooth replacement options:
- Fixed bridges
- Removable partial dentures