A dental implant is a synthetic metallic root substitute which is placed or implanted in the jaw bone. It can be used to replace a single missing tooth, provide an abutment (anchor or retainer), replace several missing teeth, or provide added retention to a removable dental appliance such as a full or partial denture. In fact, if you are missing all of your natural teeth, it is possible to have maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) fixed replacements. The replacements do not come out and you cannot remove them yourself. Implants are the best long-term option to replace a missing tooth or teeth as they are fixed in position and extremely strong.
A dental implant consists of three components:
- Fixture: made of titanium, this is the section of the implant which fuses (known as osseo-integration) to the bone, making the implant extremely strong and stable.
- Abutment: this is the specialized attachments which connects the prosthesis, through the gum, onto the fixture.
- Prosthesis: this is the part of the implant which looks like a tooth or teeth. It can include a crown, bridge or denture.
- Help to withstand greater bite pressure than dentures
- Prevent bone loss in the jaw (this may reduce the risk of adjacent natural teeth becoming loose)
- Prevent the formation of hollowed or collapsed cheeks which can occur after tooth extraction (missing teeth cause bone loss in the jaw)
- Are usually surrounded by gum tissue like natural teeth
- May prevent gum recession
- Unlike bridges, do not require the cutting and reshaping of neighbouring healthy teeth
- Are firmly secured in the jaws and are not loose like dentures
- Are usually more comfortable than dentures
- Usually do not require separate care routines or special cleaning products, as with dentures or bridges.
- Like natural teeth, dental implants are cleaned by dental floss and tooth brushing.