Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. They are metal (titanium or titanium alloy) cylinders that are placed into the jaw bone in place of the root portion of a missing tooth. An implant supports a crown, bridge or denture.
Implants may not be appropriate for everyone. For the most part if you are in good health and have enough bone and healthy gum tissue for support, implants may be an option for you. You may be able to have bone and/or gum grafts to build up the mouth to support an implant.
Certain medical conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes along with other risk factors (heavy smoking) can affect the success of treatment. It is advised that implants are not placed in young patients until they finish growing.
Implants require two parts: the surgical placement of the implant(s) and the restorative placement of the crown(s), bridge(s) or dentures. Treatment may be provided by your general practice dentist or he or she may refer you to a specialist for part, or all of your treatment. You may also work directly with a specialist to complete parts or all of your treatment.
Specialists such as a prosthodontist may be involved in both the surgical and restorative treatment while a periodontist and/or oral maxillofacial surgeon may provide the surgical placement of the implant.
Implants fuse to the jaw bone (osseo-integration) which has been shown to be stable over decades. A high success rate has consistently been shown in peer-reviewed dental literature.
It is important to remember that the crown, bridge or denture supported by the implant will require replacing over time.
As with natural teeth, how you care for your dental health, including any dental work will also factor in to its lifespan.
Brush and floss daily, eat a balanced diet, including avoiding any exceptionally hard or sticky foods that can damage any dental restorations; don't smoke and visit your dentist regularly for an examination and professional cleaning. Work with your dentist to discuss any individual care requirements.