The development of dental implants has created an alternative to dentures in replacing missing teeth. Dental implants are synthetic replacements for the roots of the missing teeth. They are attached to the jawbone and act as the basis for an artificial tooth or a dental bridge. Dentures can also be attached to implants in most cases.
In order to have a successful implant procedure, the patient must have proper bone density as well as a strong immune system so as to prevent possible infections. Additionally, rigorous oral hygiene is required. The installation of implants usually requires several visits. During the preliminary appointment, the bone density is tested to ensure the jawbone can hold the implant and a diagnostic impression is taken. The second appointment consists of a surgical procedure to place the implant in the mouth. The implant must heal and integrate with the bone for a period of time before the new, synthetic tooth is attached.
Anesthesia is administered for the surgical portion of the procedure, therefore it is rather painless but some discomfort can occur while the implant is healing. In some cases, antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent infections. For cosmetic purposes, implants are designed to look and feel like natural teeth. They are normally made of biocompatible material such as ceramic or metal.