Dental implants take the place of a lost tooth root. These permanent metal screws secure artificial or fake teeth — such as dental crowns, dental bridges or dentures — in place. A dental implant can replace one or more missing teeth.
Dental implants are small threaded posts that replace missing teeth roots. Most dental implants are titanium, but some are ceramic. Both of these materials are safe and biocompatible (friendly to the tissues inside of your mouth).
A surgeon places a dental implant into your jaw during an oral surgery procedure. Once the implant heals, your dentist can place a crown on top. Depending on your oral health goals, your dentist can restore your implants with crowns, bridges or dentures.
People who have one or more missing teeth can benefit from dental implants. You might need a dental implant if you have tooth loss due to:
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Before the dental implant procedure, you should:
During dental implant surgery, your surgeon will:
The steps for dental implant placement are generally the same for everyone. But sometimes, a surgeon can place a dental implant and restoration (like a crown or bridge) all in one visit. Most of the time, however, you’ll need a few months for the implant to heal before your dentist can safely place a final restoration. In these cases, your dentist can make a temporary (usually removable) restoration for you to wear during the healing phase.
Your surgeon will give you a detailed list of postoperative instructions. They’ll also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of soreness and discomfort:
Dental implants offer a wide range of advantages. They can:
In addition, dental implants can’t get cavities. (But they’re not invulnerable to gum disease, so it’s still important to practice good oral hygiene.)
Like any surgery, dental implant placement carries the potential for complications. Possible risks include:
When an experienced surgeon places implants, the risk of complications is minimal. If you’re thinking about getting dental implants, be sure to find a provider you trust.
Certain risk factors can affect dental implant candidacy. Dental implants may not be right for you if you:
Every person is different with a unique health history. To find out for sure if you qualify for dental implants, talk to your dentist.
Dental implant recovery times can vary, but most people can resume normal activities in about three days. Even so, it can still take several months for your jawbone to fuse around the implant. This process is osseointegration, and it’s critical for the long-term success and stability of your dental implant.
Following your dental implant placement, your surgeon will periodically check on your progress. Once the dental implant has fused with your jaw, it’s safe to add the restoration on top. Placing a dental restoration too soon can result in implant failure.
Currently, dental implants are the longest-lasting teeth replacement option available. With proper care and maintenance, they can last a lifetime. However, the restoration on top of your dental implant will need replacing at some point. Most crowns and bridges last around 15 years and most dentures last at least seven years, but this timeline varies.
If you have tooth loss that’s interfering with your quality of life, schedule an appointment with a dentist to discuss your replacement options. They can help determine if dental implants are the right solution for you.
Dental implant placement is a surgical procedure. Like any surgical procedure, some discomfort is normal. But nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and swelling associated with dental implant surgery.
You can also reduce your risk of pain by avoiding the gym for a few days. Raising your heart rate, especially within the first 72 hours, can result in increased pain, swelling and bruising.
Yes, dental implants are safe when placed by a skilled and experienced surgeon. Dentists have recommended dental implants for over 50 years. As long as you have healthy teeth and gums and commit to practicing good oral hygiene, dental implants can be a lifelong solution to tooth loss.
If a dentist has told you that you’re not a candidate for dental implants due to bone loss, there’s nothing wrong with getting a second opinion. While it’s true that some people don’t qualify for dental implants, you might be eligible for regenerative procedures like dental bone grafts or sinus lifts. These procedures can add density to areas of bone loss and potentially increase your candidacy for dental implants.
If you’re not eligible for regenerative procedures, there are other teeth replacement options that can help. Ask your dentist which is best for you.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Tooth loss can take a toll on everyday life. When you’re missing teeth, it might be difficult to chew or speak properly. Dental implants offer a long-term solution, and your dentist can tailor treatment to your unique needs. Whether you’re missing one tooth, several teeth or all of your teeth, dental implants might be an option for you. To learn more, talk to your dentist.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/21/2022.
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