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, in which 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/crown.
The primary use of dental implants is to support dental prosthetics (i.e. false teeth). Modern dental implants make use of osseointegration, the biologic process where bone fuses tightly to the surface of specific materials such as titanium and some ceramics. The integration of implant and bone can support physical loads for decades without failure.
Single tooth implant restorationSingle tooth restorations are individual freestanding units not connected to other teeth or implants, used to replace missing individual teeth. For individual tooth replacement, an implant abutment is first secured to the implant with an abutment screw. A crown (the dental prosthesis) is then connected to the abutment with dental cement, a small screw, or fused with the abutment as one piece during fabrication.(pp211–232) Dental implants, in the same way, can also be used to retain a multiple tooth dental prosthesis either in the form of a fixed bridge or removable dentures.
Implant retained fixed bridge / implant supported bridgeAn implant supported bridge (or fixed denture) is a group of teeth secured to dental implants so the prosthetic cannot be removed by the user. They are similar to conventional bridges, except that the prosthesis is supported and retained by one or more implants instead of natural teeth. Bridges typically connect to more than one implant and may also connect to teeth as anchor points.
Implant-supported overdentureA removable implant supported denture (also an implant supported overdenture) is a removable prosthesis which replaces teeth, using implants to improve support, retention and stability. They are most commonly complete dentures (as opposed to partial), used to restore edentulous dental arches. The dental prosthesis can be disconnected from the implant abutments with finger pressure by the wearer. To enable this, the abutment is shaped as a small connector (a button, ball, bar or magnet) which can be connected to analogous adapters in the underside of the dental prosthesis.
Orthodontic mini-implants (TAD)Dental implants are used in orthodontic patients to replace missing teeth (as above) or as a temporary anchorage device (TAD) to facilitate orthodontic movement by providing an additional anchorage point. For teeth to move, a force must be applied to them in the direction of the desired movement. The force stimulates cells in the periodontal ligament to cause bone remodeling, removing bone in the direction of travel of the tooth and adding it to the space created. In order to generate a force on a tooth, an anchor point (something that will not move) is needed.