If the roots of a tooth are damaged, an implant may be needed to prevent bone loss. Nerves from a tooth extend to the bone, and damage to the nerve can cause the loss of the tooth. An implant with a crown can be an alternative to a bridge or denture.

What's an Implant?

Implants are a substitute for a root to hold a tooth in place in the jaw. Because the implant will be attached to the jaw, X-rays and possibly CT scans, will be necessary to ensure that the bone is healthy and can support an implant. It also helps in the planning the placement of the implant.

This procedure takes a little longer than some others. Because a functional bond is being created between the bone and the implant, the bone around the implant requires time to heal properly with the implant so that it is properly anchored in place. This healing process can take up to six months. After healing, completion with a crown may be performed.

The Process

First, anesthesia is administered to ensure a comfortable experience. If the damaged tooth is still attached to the jaw, it must be extracted. A small drill is then used to create a hole in the top of the jawbone for the implant to be placed (A CT scan helps the dentist determine where this hole should be). The hole is widened slightly to accommodate the implant; the most common implants are created from titanium. Next, the implant is placed and gum tissue is placed over it, along with a protective cover screw to allow healing and integration with the bone. After the implant site is fully healed, you will return to the dentist to recieeve an abutment.

An abutment, a peg-like structure to hold the crown in place, will be attached to the implant. In some cases this is done during the first procedure. A temporary crown will be applied so that the gum tissues around the area grow naturally in preparation for the permanent crown. After the lab fabricates the permanent crown, it is applied and the procedure is complete.

After the Implants

For about a week after the initial surgery, a soft diet should be followed. Hard or sharp foods could tear any stitches and result in bleeding and/or infection. You should follow exemplary oral hygiene care to ensure that the implant properly adheres to the bone or there is a risk that the bone will not grow properly around the implant. Smoking has also been linked to implant failure.