What is a dental implant? The implant itself is actually a titanium screw that performs all the functions of the root of the natural tooth it replaces. Once the implant is firmly and permanently attached to the bone in your jaw, it can be capped with a porcelain crown. The combination of the implant under the gum, and crown above the gumline, creates a brand new tooth that looks and performs just like your natural tooth.
What if I don't have enough strong bone to support an implant? Sometimes there is not enough bone available to support a traditional dental implant. In this case, your dentist can use a technique called bone grafting to build up the bone in your jaw. After this graft has been given time to heal, the regular implant treatment can proceed.
How long does the process take? While there are some one-appointment implant technologies, called immediate-load implants, most implant procedures involve three appointments over a few months. The implant is attached to the jaw in the first appointment, and then given a period of months to form a strong and permanent bond with the bone. On your next appointment, your dentist will evaluate the strength of the bond, and when successful, prepare impressions for the crown, bridge or denture. Typically, you'll receive your permanent restoration on the third appointment. Ask your dentist about your specific dental needs to find out what options are available and the timing involved.
Will I have teeth during this process? Yes. No matter how many weeks the process takes, you can have teeth every step of the way. These "temporaries" will look and function like natural teeth, so you will be the only one who has to know about your dental treatment.