A dental implant is an artificial tooth. Your dentist may suggest it if a permanent tooth fell out from an injury or was taken out because of bad tooth decay.
Implants are natural-looking, can provide support for dentures, and do not affect the teeth bordering them. But after you have an implant, you may need to have more surgery in the future so that the implant stays in place in your jawbone. Talk to your dentist about the pros and cons of this treatment option.
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.
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.
Levin L, Halperin-Sternfeld M (2013). Tooth preservation or implant placement. Journal of the American Dental Association, 144(10): 1119-1133.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerSteven K. Patterson, BS, DDS, MPH - Dentistry Arden G. Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry