A dental implant is a small screw-like device that is placed into the jawbone, to replace a natural tooth. The implant acts like a tooth’s roots, and over time the dental implant becomes fused to the natural bone, making it stable.
Dental implants are used on patients who are missing teeth and are looking for a fixed, permanent solution which will enable them to feel confident in their looks, as well as being able to eat and talk comfortably.
Normally, the implant is placed into the jawbone and then allowed to heal (and fuse to the bone or “osseointegrate”) for between 6 weeks to 6 months. This allows the implant to heal without coming under pressure from chewing, and reduces the risk of implant failure. Once the implant is secure, the dentist will take an impression of the mouth in order to create a crown to sit on top of the implant and abutment (the connector in between the two).
The time needed between implant placement and the attachment of the final prosthesis may vary case by case, based on the density of the jawbone and other variables. Some clinics advise that 6 weeks is enough, and other clinics offer new teeth in a day, using systems such as Straumann’s Instant Load dental implants.
A dental implant can be used to support a single tooth, but can also form part of a full mouth restoration. Options like All-on-4 and other Implant-Supported Dental Bridges and Implant-Supported Overdentures use a few strategically placed dental implants to hold a full arch (up to 10 or 12 teeth).