A dental implant is a titanium post that serves as the roots or foundation of a replacement for a missing tooth. The post is surgically placed in the jawbone and then topped with a dental crown.
A dental implant is used to replace a missing tooth. The implant will provide a replacement which fully restores function of the missing tooth, allowing you to chew normally after the implant has been placed and fully healed.
Little preparation on your part is required for the implant procedure itself, but your dentist will go over the specifics of what to expect prior to performing dental implant surgery. If you have a tooth that needs to be extracted prior to receiving your implant, the area where you need an implant will need to heal about 2-3 months after an extraction is done.
Your doctor will numb the area so you will not have any discomfort during the procedure. An incision will be made in the gums to get at the jawbone underneath, and then a drill will be used to create a space for the implant to be screwed in. Once the implant has been put in place, it is left to graft to the jawbone, a process which generally takes a matter of months. The procedure will take about an hour in total.
After the procedure, you may feel minor discomfort for a few days after the procedure while the area heals. There may be some swelling and bleeding, but this should subside within a couple days. Once dental implant surgery is completed, your doctor will recommend allowing several months for the area to heal before placing a dental crown to finish the tooth. This 3-6 month healing period also allows your dentist to ensure that the implant has been successful.
An alternative procedure to an implant is a bridge. While a bridge requires placing crowns on the surrounding teeth to hold the replacement tooth in place, the main advantage of a dental implant vs. bridge is it is a more permanent procedure.