A dental implant is another option to replace a missing tooth. In this procedure, a small titanium shaft is surgically implanted into the bone and allowed to set. The bone grows around it forming a tight connection, which additionally slows or stops the bone loss that occurs when the root of a natural tooth is missing. Once the implant is firmly set in the mouth, the dentist then works to attach the replacement tooth onto the top of the shaft. This tooth replacement option has the advantages over traditional bridgework in that it does not stress the surrounding teeth for support, and should the tooth wear out, another can simply be replaced on the shaft.
Implants can also be used to replace multiple missing teeth when incorporated into a fixed bridge. They can support fixed bridgework either entirely, or in some cases in conjunction with the natural teeth. This is an alternative to partial dentures, and has several advantages. First, there is no adjustment period for the patient to acclimate to the new appliance, as once the work is done, the patient only feels teeth, not metal supports intruding into the mouth. Second, this slows the bone loss incurred by missing teeth. Third, there is no discomfort or difficulty in eating. And, best of all, they don’t have to be taken out all the time as is the case with partial dentures.