A dental implant is a metal rod that has an internal screw or clip (abutment) that can hold a false tooth (or teeth) in place. Implants are usually made of titanium.
Over several months, your jawbone will fuse with the titanium rod. Dentures, crowns or bridges can be attached to the implant to replace your missing teeth. One implant can support one or more replacement teeth. In your upper jaw you would need at least six implants to replace all your teeth and you would need between four and six implants in your lower jaw.
Having dental implants will involve at least one minor operation. You need to have healthy gums. Some dentists won't offer you dental implants if you smoke as it can affect the outcome of the treatment. Implants are less likely to be successful if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or osteoporosis, or have had chemotherapy. Ask your dentist if implants are an option for you.
Alternatives to dental implants include:
- removable dentures (false teeth) – plastic or metal frameworks that carry false teeth
- a bridge – false teeth that are fixed onto adjacent natural teeth
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