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What is a dental implant? 

Dental implants are artificial tooth root analogues. Just like a tooth has roots that anchor it to the jawbone, a dental implant is an artificial substitute for a missing tooth that is placed into the jawbone. Dental implants can hold a single tooth crown, a crown and bridge or an entire set of artificial teeth over them. They are made of a titanium alloy, which is a strong material that is readily accepted by the human body. 
comparison of tooth root and implant
dental implant

How is it done?

If there is sufficient bone space available for an implant, replacing a missing tooth or many missing teeth with dental implants is a simple procedure. 
1. Your dentist will assess whether it is feasible to replace a missing tooth with a dental implant. This assessment will include your smoking habits, medical history - especially diabetes, oral hygiene status and the bone where implant has to be placed. If the bone where implant has to be placed is not sufficient, additional procedures to make space for the implant may be required, such as bone grafting and sinus lift. 
2. The area of the missing tooth is numbed (anesthetized). 
3. A hole is drilled into the jawbone, corresponding to the length, width and orientation of the dental implant that will be placed. 
4. The dental implant is placed into the prepared site and stabilized. 
5. A temporary crown may be placed on the implant, or it may be left covered by the gums for some time. This time period can extend from 2 - 6 months, in which time the bone fuses with the implant. 
6. Once the dental implant is integrated with the jawbone, a crown can be made over it to simulate a natural tooth. If more than one tooth were missing, a crown and bridge can be made or a removable/ fixed complete set of teeth can be fabricated. The minimum number of implants required to replace upto 2 missing teeth is 1, for 3 missing teeth is 2, and to replace all missing teeth of one jaw is 4. 
dental x-ray showing implant
dental crown and bridge on implants

What else should I know about Dental Implants? 

Dental implants are the best treatment option for replacement of missing teeth - biologically and cosmetically. You can know more about other treatment options for replacement of missing teeth, and compare them with dental implants here.  
 If your dentist advises you to have a bad tooth removed, you should talk to him about dental implant. Sometimes, a dental implant can be placed as soon as a tooth is removed. If a dental implant is planned after tooth removal, the bone may need to be preserved at the time of tooth extraction for better implant placement. 
 With advances in techniques and technology of dental implants, now dental implants can be placed in a lot of situations where they were not feasible earlier. They have a success rate of more than 90%, and are fast becoming the preferred choice for replacement of a missing tooth. 
 A dental implant procedure is a minor surgical procedure, and like all surgical procedures carries with it the risk of some complications. Therefore, it should always be done by a specialist, with proper planning before the procedure. This planning may require additional investigations, such as CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography). Always discuss with your dentist the dental implant that will be placed for you, any possible complications that may arise and the success expected out of your dental implant.  
tooth implant in bone
A quick "brush-up"
Dental Implants
Done for 
Replacement of one or more missing teeth
Number of sittings
Minimum 4 sittings; usually 2-6 months
Pain/ Discomfort
Usually none
Injury to deeper structures if not planned properly
Requires anesthesia (numbing)
Periodontist, Prosthodontist, Oral Surgeon, Implantologist