Implants are very good tooth replacement options. They function as individual teeth, and do not need to be supported by adjacent teeth. Basically what the procedure consists of is SCREW(S) surgically placed into your jaw bone, the bone is allowed to heal around the screw(s)- called osseointegration, an abutment is placed into the implant, which serves as the base to hold the CROWN is attached to the screw!

There are many different types of implants from many different companies, but the implant itself, abutment, and crown are the main parts of most implanted tooth replacement options. 

Photo courtesy of Stephen F. Gordon, 1993. 

They are also very versatile, and can function alone, or can be used to anchor both fixed and or removable tooth replacement options.

For example, below is an illustration of implants used to retain a lower partial denture.

For more information on removable partial dentures, click here (removable partial dentures)


Dental implants surgery was traditionally performed by a specialist, but many general dentists place implants as well. The surgery is normally done under local anesthetic in a regular dental office.

Dental implant surgery has evolved, and is not as invasive and does not cause as much post operative discomfort as when they were first being placed. Similar to having teeth extracted, you can expect some discomfort for the first few days after surgery, but that should dissipate over time.

Often times implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth is removed, and can be done in a matter of minutes.  If it is conservatively placed, sutures are not always needed and there may be minimal bleeding.

If the pain lasts longer than about a week, that is often a sign that the implant may not be healing as well as desired.

The implant is normally given about 4-6 months of healing time in order to become fixed in the jaw, and be strong enough to withstand biting forces.  If the implant is restored too early (before it has been allowed to heal properly), it likely will get loose and fail.


Tooth implants costs will vary depending on where you live, who places the implant, and what type of implant is placed.

In general they are in the $2000-4000 range to have the implant placed and the subsequent crown placed. It is a bit pricey due to the two different procedures, as well as the fact that implant parts are very expensive to the dentist.


Not all people can have implants. Patient selection and site (in the mouth) selection is very important.

  • Adequate height/thickness of bone is needed to support the dental implant
  • Adequate soft tissue/gingva/gums are needed to support the dental implant
  • Adequate spacing between the teeth and between the upper/lower arches is needed
  • Proper angulation of the implant placement is very important
  • Medical conditions or patient habits, such as smoking may decrease success rate(s)

In certain areas bone grafting may be needed to augment the amount of bone that is present. Bone grafting is usually done when the tooth is extracted or when the implant is placed.


Sometimes sinus lift surgery is needed as a form of bone grafting in the upper posterior region. The sinus cavity can cause the bone to be very thin in this area, in which case the sinus wall is altered to allow more bone to be placed to hold the implant.

Implants can be placed slightly into the sinus cavity, which can give additional stability since the bone in that area is often very strong.


There are also major nerves, most notably in the lower jaw that need to be avoided.  If there is not enough bone, or the implant is placed too deep, it may lead to temporary or permanent numbness or loss of function of the tongue or surrounding tissues.

Uses of Tooth Implants:

Implants bridges are NOT done from implant to natural tooth. Teeth have a periodontal ligament, which allow some (normally undetectable) movement, whereas implants do not move.

If implants are not viable for you, there are other fixed and removable tooth replacement options.


Dental implants may seem like indestructible tooth replacement options, and if they are done properly and planned out well, they can last many years. Unfortunately, if they are overloaded, meaning too much asked of them, or they are used in ways they were not intended to, they can fail.

These are possible ways they do/can fail.

  • The Porcelain can Fracture off of the Crown
  • The Screw can Loosen
  • The Implant can Fracture
  • Loss of Bone around the Implant
  • Which can lead to Loss of the Implant
  • Decementation

Fortunately, most of these can be avoided by proper placement and knowing their limitations.

Read about Fixed Prosthetics
Read about Dentures and other Removable Prosthetics.

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