Dental Implants

Topic Overview

A dental implant is an artificial tooth that replaces a tooth that has been taken out. Implants are natural-looking, can provide support for dentures, and do not affect the teeth bordering them. They are as stable as your real teeth and protect you from the loss of jawbone, which occurs when you lose teeth.

You may need an implant if you have lost a tooth because of tooth decay or an accident. To receive an implant, you need to have healthy gums and enough bone to support the implant.

After your tooth has been removed:

  • Your dentist, oral surgeon, or gum disease specialist (periodontist) will place an anchor and post in your jawbone. The anchor functions as the tooth root and is made from metals such as titanium. The post extends out of the anchor. Your new tooth will attach to the post. It takes 3 to 6 months for the jawbone to grow around the anchor and hold it in place. Some dentists use two operations to put in the anchor and the post.
  • When the anchor is well attached to the bone, your dentist will cement the artificial tooth (crown) to the implant.

You may have swelling and/or tenderness for a few days after the surgery, and your dentist may give you pain medicine. Your dentist may also suggest that you eat only soft foods for a period of time.

After you have an implant, it stays in. You do not have to remove it for cleaning or soaking, as you do dentures.

It is just as important to brush and floss implants as it is with natural teeth. If bacteria build up on implants, you can end up with gum disease and bone loss.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Steven K. Patterson, BS, DDS, MPH - Dentistry
Last Revised June 7, 2013

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