We all want to maintain a full, healthy smile for as long as possible, but unfortunately, nearly everyone will lose at least one adult tooth by the time they reach retirement age. This is not merely a cosmetic issue – it can negatively affect oral health. Tooth roots go deep into the jaw bone and stimulate the bone. When they are no longer there, the bone loses that stimulation and can eventually become weakened. Additionally, the remaining teeth may shift along the gum line into the empty space, potentially altering facial structure. Missing teeth can also lead to gum disease, malocclusion, and even tooth decay. To prevent these issues from occurring, it’s recommended that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible. Single-tooth dental implants are one very effective option for replacing teeth.
Dental implants are not the actual tooth restoration. Rather, they are small titanium posts that are surgically implanted into the jawbone. These rods fuse into the bone over time and become strong and stable enough to support a dental crown that fully restores functionality.
Dental implants can be used to support dentures and partials, but they are also an effective replacement for the loss of single teeth.
The complete procedure for dental implants takes several months, but the initial appointment to have the implant placed can usually be carried out in about an hour. During this appointment, an incision is made in the gum line over the site of the missing tooth. The implant is screwed into the bone and the gums stitched closed over it. The implant will then need several months to allow the bone to fuse around it (a process called osseointegration) before it is ready to support a crown. During a second appointment, the crown (which is custom-fitted) will be attached to complete the patient’s smile.
Although the dental crown may need replacing after about 15 years (or more), with proper care, dental implants should last the patient’s entire life.