Dental Implants

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What are dental implants?

Dental implants as we know them today were invented in 1952 by a Swedish orthopedic surgeon named Per-Ingvar Brånemark. Today, they are considered the standard of care for replacement of missing teeth. Specifically, a dental implant is a surgical fixture that is placed into the jawbone and allowed to fuse with the bone over time. The dental implant acts as a replacement for the root of a missing tooth and holds a replacement tooth or bridge. Having a dental implant fused to the jawbone is the closest thing to mimicking a natural tooth because it stands on its own without affecting the adjacent teeth and has great stability. The process of fusion between the dental implant and bone is called "osseointegration." Most dental implants are made of titanium which allows them to integrate with bone without being recognized as a foreign object in our body. Over time, technology and science have progressed to greatly improve the outcomes of dental implant placement. Today, the success rate for dental implants is close to 98%.

When would I need a dental implant?

Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth. The goal of replacement of teeth is to restore function and/or esthetics.

In general, the three options for teeth replacement include (1) removable dental appliance (full denture or partial denture), (2) fixed dental bridge, and (3) dental implant. Deciding on which option to choose depends on many factors. Specifically for dental implants, these factors include:

  • location of missing tooth or teeth
  • quantity and quality of the jawbone where the dental implant is to be placed
  • health of the patient
  • cost
  • patient preference

A dental surgeon examines the area to be considered for the dental implant and makes an assessment of whether the patient is a good candidate for this option.

There are many advantages to choosing a dental implant for teeth replacement over the other options. Dental implants are conservative in that missing teeth can be replaced without affecting or altering the adjacent teeth. Furthermore, because dental implants integrate into the bone structure, they are very stable and can have the look and feel of one's own teeth.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/13/2014

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Dental Implant Picture

Dental implants are replacement tooth roots made of titanium. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that are made to match your natural teeth. Instead of individual crowns, some patients may have attachments on their implant that support a removable denture.