The dental implants used by most dental implant specialists today are root-form implants. Translated, they are substitute tooth roots, used to replace the natural tooth roots in areas of the mouth where teeth are missing. It is vitally important to replace the tooth root and not just the visible part of the tooth (crown) because the natural tooth roots, which are embedded in the bone, preserve the bone.
When the tooth roots are missing, the bone that previously supported those teeth melts away, or deteriorates. This process is called bone resorption. The impact of deteriorating bone from complete tooth loss includes collapsed facial profiles, lost lip support, increased wrinkles around the mouth and the appearance of a pointed nose and chin that are too close together.
However, the bone can be preserved by replacing missing tooth roots with dental implants. Since the bone actually forms a strong bond to the implants, they can serve the same functions as natural tooth roots: a strong foundation for biting and chewing, and stimulation for the bone to hold it in place.
Dental implants are small and made of titanium, a biocompatible material that is not rejected by the body. With an overall success rate of 95% and over, with an additional 40+ years of clinical research, dental implants have the best long-term prognosis of any method of tooth replacement.
A tooth replaced by a dental implant has three components to it: The implant itself, which replaces the missing natural tooth root. The abutment, which is a post that connects to the implant, protrudes through the gumline, and acts as a support to attach the artificial tooth crown. The crown, which is made from porcelain and is either screw-retained or cemented to the abutment permanently for a naturally beautiful final tooth restoration. None of these components are subject to bacterial invasion and subsequent decay, as natural teeth and traditional dental crowns and bridgework, and dental implants are designed for a lifetime.