Dental Implant Surgery
A dental implant is a metal post that replaces the root of a missing tooth. An artificial tooth (crown) is placed on an extension of the post (abutment) on the dental implant, giving you the look of a real tooth.
Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. Dental implant surgery can offer a welcome alternative to dentures or bridgework that doesn’t fit well.
How dental implant surgery is performed depends on the type of implant and the condition of your jawbone. But all dental implant surgery occurs in stages and may involve several procedures. The major benefit of implants is solid support for your new teeth — a process that requires the bone to heal tightly around the implant. Because this healing requires time, the process can take many months.
Why it’s done
Dental implants are surgically placed in your jawbone, where they serve as the roots of missing teeth. Because the titanium in the implants fuses with your jawbone, the implants won’t slip, make noise or cause bone damage the way fixed bridgework or dentures might. And the materials can’t decay like your own teeth that support regular bridgework can.
In general, dental implants may be right for you if you:
Have one or more missing teeth
Have a jawbone that’s reached full growth
Have adequate bone to secure the implants or are able to have a bone graft
Have healthy oral tissues
Don’t have health conditions that will affect bone healing
Are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
Want to improve your speech
Are willing to commit several months to the process
Dental implant surgery is usually an outpatient surgery performed in stages:
Your damaged tooth is removed.
Your jawbone is prepared for surgery, a process that may involve bone grafting.
After your jawbone heals, your oral surgeon places the dental implant metal post in your jawbone.
You go through a healing period that may last several months.
Your oral surgeon places the abutment — an extension of the implant metal post — followed by your new artificial tooth (crown).
The entire process can take many months from start to finish — three to nine months and sometimes longer. Much of that time is devoted to healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw.