A dental implant is an entire tooth (crown and root) replacement. Dental implants are considered the ideal treatment to replace a missing tooth and are made up of two parts: the dental implant, and the implant abutment and crown.
The piece called the dental implant is a titanium or zirconia “tooth root” that is placed by a surgical dentist. Once the implant is stable, it’s ready to add the missing crown of the tooth.
Using impressions or digital scanning technology, your surgical dentist and lab technician work together to make the implant abutment and implant crown. The implant abutment connects to the dental implant and acts as the support on which the implant crown sits. The abutment connects the root to the crown of the new tooth. Once the abutment is in place, your dentist fits and places a crown. Once the crown is seated, your missing tooth is fully restored.
The main benefit of an implant over a bridge is the preservation of your teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. A bridge requires those teeth to be whittled down in order to fit the part of the bridge that sits over those teeth. This procedure is significantly invasive to your teeth, and if those teeth were healthy, to begin with, the bridge procedure damages them. If there’s no other alternative for you, having the bridge is usually a better option than having the space left by the missing tooth. In that case, it’s worth the effort to find a dentist who practices minimally-invasive dentistry using current technology.