Introduction to Dental Implants
As a relatively new treatment type (it has been around for about 30 years) there is a lot written about implants online and in the press.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a prosthetic replacement for a missing tooth. It is a small, highly engineered device made of medical grade titanium sometimes alloyed with a mineral called zirconium. These materials are biocompatible (i.e. cause no irritation or reaction from the body) and offer strength and durability as well as a unique property that allows it to fuse directly with bone – a process known as osseointegration.
A natural tooth is made up of the crown (enamel and dentine), the visible part above the gums and the root which extends into the jawbone and is connected to it by the periodontal ligament. The root is the part of the tooth effectively replaced by an implant.
There are commonly three parts to what is described as a ‘dental implant’:
- The implant device itself, which is inserted directly into the bone and fuses to it (osseointegration).
- The abutment, the piece that connects theimplant device to the third part,
- The overlying individual crown, multi-unit bridge or denture.