Implants are posts that are fixed in the jaw and are one way of replacing missing teeth. It is possible to have more than one tooth replaced and this might involve having more than one implant. Implants can also be used to stabilise dentures. The 3D model shows the placement of one implant with a crown on top.
Patients need to have healthy gums, and enough jawbone to support the posts and the replacement teeth. They must also be prepared to maintain good mouth hygiene and visit the dentist regularly.
Implants involve undergoing surgery twice or more over a period of several months.
Bone is exposed in the jaw where the tooth is missing. Then a hole is drilled and a metal post is inserted into the bone. This is usually done under a local anaesthetic, but sometimes sedation or a general anaesthetic is used. The gum is then stitched over the post and it's left to heal for several months, until the bone has grown around the post, making it secure.
A second operation then happens, in which a replacement tooth is mounted onto the implant post. This requires a small cut in the gum to allow the replacement tooth to be fixed permanently or attached in a way that lets the dentist remove it.