Dental implants are considered the gold standard in restoring single and multiple teeth, including full arches. Implants are made out of titanium and have thread patterns similar to those see in screws.
When considering a single implant to replace a tooth, there are 3 major parts: the implant BODY, ABUTMENT, and CROWN. The implant body is the part which is surgically placed in the jaw bone. It has thread patterns similar to those seen in a screw. The abutment is the intermediary part which connects the implant body to the crown and emerges from the gums. And of course the crown is the part which rests on the abutment, restoring the visible part of the tooth and providing chewing function and natural aesthetics.
The process does require some patience, allowing the body time to heal and grow bone around the implant. The failed tooth is extracted and bone grafting material to preserve the socket is typically placed in anticipation of an implant. (On occasion, a tooth may be extracted and the implant placed immediately.) The site is allowed to heal roughly 3-4 months. Once healed, the implant body will be placed. The patient’s bone heals around the implant and locks it into place. Once again, this takes time; approximately 2-3 months. Once the healing is complete, impressions will be taken to fabricate the abutment and the crown. As a general rule, anesthetics are only needed for the surgical steps. Taking impressions and making the abutment and crown elicit little to no discomfort. I often tell my patients it’s similar to taking an earring in and out after the piercing has healed.
After the different parts are connected, the patient can immediately begin eating on the implant tooth. Care is the same as for all natural teeth; twice daily brushing and once daily flossing. Although most implants are successful and can last a lifetime, there can be some pitfalls. It’s best to discuss the pros and cons of treatment prior to care.