A dental implant is a titanium device that is imbedded in the maxilla or mandible (lower) tooth beds that supports a protruding stud to which a porcelain crown, dentures, or an implanted support bridge may be attached.
Titanium is used as it has a natural ability to promote oseointegration, which means it integrates directly into the body and allows allows the bone to grow around it and adhere, or fuse to it, making for a very durable, stable, and permanent platform for attachment. Although the bone will adhere, or fuse to the titanium implant, the implant lacks a periodontal ligament that your natural teeth have, so they will feel slightly different than your natural teeth when you chew.
Practically all implants used today are root-form endosseous implants, that is, the implant has a "root" similar to a natural tooth. Before these types of implants were used, dentists used either an implant that had a kind of "blade" that was imbedded in to the tooth bed, or a sub periosteal implant, in which a framework was constructed to lie upon the exposed bone of the mandible or maxilla and was attached to the bone with screws.
Other than for crowns or bridges, dental implants are sometimes used for braces as they can be used as anchorage for orthodontic tooth movement. The ADA has no specialty title or certification for dental implants.
Implant surgery may be performed as an outpatient under general anesthesia, oral conscious sedation, nitrous oxide sedation, intravenous sedation or under local anesthesia by trained and certified clinicians including general dentists, endodontists, oral surgeons, periodontitis, and prosthodontics.
Prior to implant surgery, your dentist will use x-ray information to "map" the way they will drill the bone to ensure that no vital nerves are damaged during the procedure. Once the implant has been placed, the surgery site will usually need to be allowed to heal before the crown is placed.
Sometimes an implant will be placed at the same time as an extraction to minimize the drilling necessary to place the implant, sometimes when an implant is placed in this manner, the crown may be placed at the same time, reducing the need for more office visits . Healing time for this procedure may take from two, to six months. This is only a very brief overview of this procedure, talk to your dentist about implants and if this procedure is right for you. Your dentist will explain the procedure fully to you.