A dental implant is a small, threaded metal cylinder that can be surgically placed into the jawbone. Implants may be used to permanently replace either a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth or support a denture that sits over multiple implants – this is known as an overdenture. Prior to implant placement, the soft and hard tissues of the jaw must be thoroughly assessed and x-rays must be taken. Sometimes, additional procedures are required such as a bone graft to ensure there is enough bone to place and support an implant. The implant itself replaces the root of a tooth.
Once implants are placed, they become integrated into bone over a number of months. A small connector is placed on top of the metal cylinder that allows a subsequent crown or bridge to sit above the gum line and resemble a natural tooth or many natural teeth – as the case may be. To be suitable for implant placement you must have healthy gums and be able to maintain them with good oral hygiene practices. It is best to discuss the provision of implants with your dental professional, who will help to determine whether implants are right for you.