Dental implants are titanium anchors that integrate with the bone in the jaw to provide the foundation a missing tooth root once provided. An implant can be used to support a crown when a single tooth is missing. Multiple implants can be used to support a fixed bridge when more than one tooth is missing. Implants can be used to support a denture when many or all teeth have been lost.
When implants are used to replace single teeth they have the advantage of being secure, compact and don’t require reshaping adjacent teeth as would be required when making a tooth supported bridge. Multiple implants can be placed in spaces too large to be be restored with conventional bridgework.
For people missing many or all teeth, implants can give stability to a partial or full denture. This is especially helpful for people who have very small jaws or those that have been unable to manage conventional dentures.
Replacement of teeth by implants is usually a multistage process. First the existing teeth and gums must be stable and healthy. Then a surgeon places the implant anchor in either a place where he has just removed a tooth or in a place where a tooth has been previously extracted. The anchor is allowed to heal until the titanium has integrated with the bone. The final restoration is fabricated after the initial healing period.
While implant replacement is the closest replacement for natural teeth, they are neither instant nor maintenance free. Implants still require regular home care and periodic recall visits to your dentist, just like natural teeth. And since no person heals instantly, it will take time and multiple visits to reach your goal.