Dental implants look, feel and function just like your natural teeth. Dental implants can be used whenever at least one tooth is missing, and they have become an increasingly popular solution over using bridges and dentures because a dental implant is a permanent replacement for the visible part of the tooth and tooth root. If a missing tooth isn’t filled, the teeth surrounding the space can drift, the opposing teeth in the other arch can erupt further into the oral cavity resulting in a change in your bite, facial structure, bone erosion, and possibly even changes in speech.
Implants are designed to replace the root of a missing tooth and can support dental appliances such as dentures, bridges or crowns. The most common type of implant is the root-form implant, made of the following components:
1. Implant: A titanium screw that is surgically inserted in the bone. Titanium is the material of choice because the body accepts it readily and this metal fuses with the bone with the healing process.
2. Abutment: A metal collar attached to the implant screw that anchors a denture, bridge or crown.
3. Crown: A manufactured tooth that fits on top of the abutment. Dentures and bridges can also be secured to the abutment; usually the last step of the implant process.