Dental Implants - Replacing Missing Teeth
If one or more of your teeth are missing, there are a number of ways to
replace them. An alternative to bridges, partials or complete dentures
may be dental implants. Implants are used to replace missing roots and
support artificial replacement teeth. They are comfortable and look like
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is an artificial root made of titanium metal. It is
inserted into the jawbone to replace the root of the natural tooth. An
artificial replacement tooth is attached to the implant. The implant
acts as an anchor to hold the replacement tooth in place.
Who can get dental implants?
If you are in good general health, have healthy gums and have enough
bone in the jaw to hold an implant, dental implants might be right for
you. If your jawbone has shrunk or have had a recent extraction, you
may be able to have a bone graft to build up the bone. A bone graft is a
way of adding new bone to your jawbone. Your dentist or dental
specialist will tell you if bone grafting can be done.
How dental implants are done
Your dentist will carefully examine your mouth and
take x-rays of your head, jaw and teeth to find out if dental implants
are right for you.
During the first stage of surgery, your dentist or specialist will
put a dental implant into your jawbone beneath the gum tissue. The gum
tissue is then stitched back into place. As the tissue heals, the
implant will bond with the bone and attach to the gum. It can take
several months to heal.
During the second stage of surgery and once the tissue is healed,
your dentist or specialist will attach an abutment to the implant. An
abutment is a post that connects the replacement tooth to the implant.
In some cases, the first and second
stage of implant surgery may be done in one single stage.
An artificial replacement tooth is made and your dentist or
specialist attaches it to the abutment. It usually takes a couple of appointments
to properly fit the replacement tooth to the abutment.
When replacing several teeth or all of your teeth, a fixed bridge
is anchored to your dental implants. A bridge is a dental restoration
that replaces one or more missing teeth by spanning an area that has no
teeth. The bridge is held firmly in place by dental implants on each
side of the missing tooth or teeth.
Caring for my dental implant(s)
Because dental implants are placed in the jawbone, artificial
replacement teeth attached to implants look and act much like natural
teeth. Like natural teeth, implants need to be kept clean using a
toothbrush and floss. Your dentist will show you the proper cleaning
procedure for implants. Regular dental checkups are important so your
dentist can make sure that your bite is right and that your implants are