Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Dental Implants

Font Size

Topic Overview

A dental implant is an artificial tooth that replaces a tooth that has been taken out. Implants are natural-looking, can provide support for dentures, and do not affect the teeth bordering them. They are as stable as your real teeth and protect you from the loss of jawbone, which occurs when you lose teeth.

You may need an implant if you have lost a tooth because of tooth decay or an accident. To receive an implant, you need to have healthy gums and enough bone to support the implant.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Receding Gums

Gum recession is the process in which the margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away, or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth, or the tooth's root. Receding gums may be one of the first signs of gum disease. When gum recession occurs, "pockets," or gaps, form between the teeth and gum line, making it easy for disease-causing bacteria to build up. If left untreated, the supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be severely damaged, and may ultimately result in tooth...

Read the Receding Gums article > >

After your tooth has been removed:

  • Your dentist, oral surgeon, or gum disease specialist (periodontist) will place an anchor and post in your jawbone. The anchor functions as the tooth root and is made from metals such as titanium. The post extends out of the anchor. Your new tooth will attach to the post. It takes 3 to 6 months for the jawbone to grow around the anchor and hold it in place. Some dentists use two operations to put in the anchor and the post.
  • When the anchor is well attached to the bone, your dentist will cement the artificial tooth (crown) to the implant.

You may have swelling and/or tenderness for a few days after the surgery, and your dentist may give you pain medicine. Your dentist may also suggest that you eat only soft foods for a period of time.

After you have an implant, it stays in. You do not have to remove it for cleaning or soaking, as you do dentures.

It is just as important to brush and floss implants as it is with natural teeth. If bacteria build up on implants, you can end up with gum disease and bone loss.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 14, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
highlighted areas of the brain
How well do you know yours?
oatmeal and eggs
The best and worst for you.
dog begging at table
Foods your dog should never eat.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
mature woman with serious expression
What do you know?
chlamydia
Pictures and facts.
Healthy Snack
13 delicious options.
Take your medication
Separate fact from fiction.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
young woman in sun
What to watch for.
woman clutching at stomach
Do you know what's causing yours?

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.