Before development of dental implants, dental bridges and dentures were the only alternatives to replacing missing teeth.
Modern implants are made from titanium. Titanium offers the benefit of being lightweight and strong and is not rejected by the body (biocompatible). Implants are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by root. They transmit chewing forces to the jaw, stimulating it and preventing the bone loss associated with missing tooth.
The implant procedure usually is done in two stages. After careful treatment planning, the first step is a surgical procedure that is required to prepare the area for the implant and place it. This stage is done by the oral surgeons or periodontists (gum and jaw bone specialists). Following this procedure, a period of time (up to 3 - 6 mo) is required for the implant to take hold and for bone tissue to build up and anchor the device.
The second stage is a placement of the final crown that follows about 3 to 6 months after the implant placement. This stage is performed at your dentist's office and usually requires two appointments.
The implants can act as a foundation for a single artificial tooth, permanent bridge or attach dentures.
Even though dental implants are standard of care procedures today, not everyone is a candidate for this treatment option. People with uncontrolled medical conditions, certain metabolic diseases, poor bone qualities, poor oral hygiene and long time smokers are not good candidates for implants due to decreased chances for successful outcome. Your dentist team will help you to make the right decision about the implant treatment.