In the mid 1980’s predictably successful dental implants were first done. Dentistry now has a 25 year plus history of placing dental implants that can then be restored in many ways. An implant is a post made of a titanium alloy that is placed in the bone where a tooth once existed. After a period of time passes (3 to 4 months), the bone grows to the implant and integrates to the implant and essentially, the implant and the bone fuse together. In many ways, an implant is more solid than a tooth. Once the implant has integrated, it can be used to restore many different situations involving missing teeth.
Today, the most common use of implants is to replace a single missing tooth. In this case, an abutement is screwed to the implant. The implant acts as the root of the tooth and the abutement acts as the crown portion. A crown then covers the abutement just as if it were a tooth.
Implants may be used to replace multiple teeth, or in some cases, all of the teeth with what would be called a screw retained denture. Another very good use for implants is to support and retain removable partial or dentures. This can make situations that may be either unstable or loose, suddenly very solid.