- A dental implant is a metal screw that is used in place of the root of a missing tooth.
- The screw is usually made of titanium. It’s attached to the bone in your jaw.
- Your dentist or dental practitioner will attach an artificial tooth to the implant.
- More than one visit is needed to complete your dental implant procedure.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is a metal screw that is used in place of the root of your missing tooth. The dental implant is attached to the bone in your jaw where the roots of the missing tooth sat. The implant is usually made of a metal called titanium.
A dental implant can support a bridge, crown or denture. Over time, bone grows around the implant, which helps to hold it in place.
What is a dental implant procedure?
A dental implant procedure is the name of the operation used to replace your missing teeth.
Once the implant is in place, an artificial tooth, or crown, is then attached. The crown is specially made to look like your other teeth.
Why might I need a dental implant?
If you have one or more missing teeth, a dental implant might be an option to consider.
Not all people can have a dental implant. Your dentist or dental practitioner will need to check that:
- your jawbone is healthy
- you have enough bone to hold the implant
- any medical conditions you have
- any medicines you take
- your gums healthy
What happens during my dental implant procedure?
Your dental implant treatment procedure may be done by a:
- general dentist
- oral surgeon
They will develop a treatment plan.
A dental implant procedure is usually done in stages over a few months.
First you will need to have scans and x-rays to give your dentist or dental practitioner a clear picture of where to place the implant.
Your dentist or dental practitioner will put the dental implant into your jawbone in a minor operation. They will give you a local anaesthetic so that you don’t feel pain during the surgery.
Over about 3 months your bone grows around the implant, which helps to hold it in place.
Whilst the implant site is healing, your artificial tooth (crown) is made in a laboratory.
The crown is fixed to the metal implant to fill the gap in your teeth.
What should I do after a dental implant?
After the procedure, you might have some:
- swelling of your gums
- swelling of your face
- bleeding from your gums
Ask your dentist or dental practitioner for advice if this happens to you.
You might need to eat soft foods while the surgery site is healing.
How should I look after my dental implant?
Care for your implant like you do for your other teeth:
- brush your teeth and gums twice a day
- clean between the implant and your other teeth using floss, interdental brushes, or a water flosser
- have regular dental check-ups
If you have swelling or inflammation of your gums or bone have it checked and treated.
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What are the benefits and risks of a dental implant?
Talk to your health professional about the benefits and risks of getting a medical implant.
Use the Therapeutic Goods Administration's guide on what to ask. The information is in English, Arabic, Croatian, Farsi, Greek, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.
Dental implants are usually successful. Some benefits are:
- improved confidence in how your teeth look
- allows you to eat normally
- feels like your natural teeth
- nothing is done to the teeth next to your implant
Possible problems with dental implants include:
- nerve damage
- sinus problems
- injury or damage to your surrounding teeth or blood vessels
What are my alternatives to a dental implant?
The alternatives to dental implants are:
- wearing dentures that you can remove
- having a dental bridge attached to your surrounding teeth
Ask your dentist or dental practitioner which option is best for you.
What are the costs of dental implants?
A dental implant is expensive. Make sure you know all the costs of your treatment before you start.
If you have private health insurance, find out how much you will get back.
If you have a Veterans Gold or White Card you may be able to claim the cost of your dental implants from Medicare.
Resources and Support
You can find out more about how to care for your teeth at Teeth.org.au
You can learn more about periodontal treatment here.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: April 2023