Implant is primarily used when a single tooth is missing and also to support dental prosthetics, such as crowns, bridges, or dentures. They can also be used when the adjacent teeth are not strong enough to support a dental bridge. The artificial titanium tooth root is surgically implanted into the jaw. During the healing process, the bone cells attach themselves directly to the implant surface. It can then function as a sturdy anchor for dental prosthetics.
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A dental implant (also known as an endosseous implant or fixture) is a surgical component that interfaces with the bone of the jaw or skull to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge, denture, facial prosthesis or to act as an orthodontic anchor. The basis for modern dental implants is a biologic process called osseointegration where materials, such as titanium, form an intimate bond to bone. The implant fixture is first placed, so that it is likely to osseointegrate, then a dental prosthetic is added. A variable amount of healing time is required for osseointegration before either the dental prosthetic (a tooth, bridge or denture) is attached to the implant or an abutment is placed which will hold a dental prosthetic.
The final prosthetic can be either fixed, where a person cannot remove the denture or teeth from their mouth or removable, where they can remove the prosthetic. In each case an abutment is attached to the implant fixture. Where the prosthetic is fixed, the crown, bridge or denture is fixed to the abutment with either lag screws or dental cement. Where the prosthetic is removable, a corresponding adapter is placed in the prosthetic so that the two pieces can be secured together.