Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Dental implant

3-minute read

A dental implant is a dental procedure to replace a missing tooth. Unlike dentures, which are false teeth that you can easily remove, dental implants are placed in your jawbone in a series of minor operations.

What are dental implants?

A dental implant is a piece of metal that looks like a screw and is put into the jaw where the missing tooth’s roots were. Over time, bone grows around the implant, which helps to hold it in place.

An artificial tooth, or crown, is then attached to the metal to fill in the gap left by the missing tooth. The crown is specially made to look like your other teeth in size, shape and colour.

Dental implants can also be used to hold a dental bridge or dentures in place.

When might a dental implant be needed?

If you have one or more teeth that are missing, having a dental implant might be an option for replacing the missing teeth. In general, a dental implant might be suitable if you:

  • have a fully grown, healthy jawbone
  • don’t have gum disease
  • don’t have conditions that affect bone healing.

Your dentist will discuss with you whether a dental implant procedure is suitable for you.

What happens during a dental implant?

A dental implant is usually done in stages over a few months, with a series of minor operations and tests.

  • You’ll need scans and x-rays to give the dentist a very clear picture of where to place the implant.
  • You’ll have a minor operation to have the dental implant put in your jawbone. You will usually be given an anaesthetic so that you don’t feel pain during the surgery.
  • You wait for a few months while the bone grows around the dental implant.
  • Once the implant is stable, your dentist will create a foundation for your new tooth.
  • Some time later, your dentist will take a mould of your mouth to make the artificial tooth or teeth.
  • Finally, the artificial tooth or teeth are screwed or cemented into the foundation.

It’s a slow process, with quite a few visits to the dentist and possibly some trips to have scans or x-rays done.

dental implant
A dental implant screws into the jaw where the missing tooth’s roots were.

What to expect after a dental implant

After any of the minor operations, you might have bruising, pain and swelling of your gums and face. You may also have some bleeding from the gums.

You might need to eat soft foods after each surgery to let the dental implant site heal.

No special care is required for a dental implant. You will probably be advised to keep your natural and artificial teeth clean by brushing and flossing, and have regular dental check-ups.

Benefits and risks of a dental implant

Dental implants are usually successful. Problems are rare but include:

  • infection
  • injury or damage to surrounding teeth or blood vessels
  • nerve damage
  • sinus problems.

Alternatives to dental implants

The alternatives to dental implants are wearing dentures or a dental bridge.

Costs

A dental implant is expensive – in the thousands of dollars, rather than hundreds of dollars. Make sure you know all the costs before you start. If you have private health insurance, ask the insurance company how much you will get back.

Last reviewed: March 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

How Smoking Affects the Mouth | myVMC

Smoking plays a part in several diseases and lesions in the mouth, the most common being gum disease. The chance of dental implant failure is also more common among smokers than among non-smokers.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Cosmetic dentistry

Discoloured, chipped or missing teeth can affect self-confidence but cosmetic dentistry techniques can help.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Department of Veterans Affairs (31-64yrs) - Your Dental Health | Australian Dental Association

Veterans holding white and gold DVA cards are eligible for certain dental treatments. Information for Adults 31 - 64 years.

Read more on ADA – Australian Dental Association website

Dental X-rays

X-rays give your dentist a comprehensive assessment of your mouth's health. Information for younger Adults 18 - 30 years.

Read more on ADA – Australian Dental Association website

Dental treatment - Better Health Channel

Modern techniques mean that dental and oral health treatment is almost always painless.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Importance of Regular Dental Check-Ups | myVMC

Regular visits to the family dentist to get teeth checked and cleaned are very important and early detection canprevent diseases in the mouth.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - InsideRadiology

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanning procedure that uses strong magnets and radiofrequency pulses to generate signals from the body.

Read more on InsideRadiology website

Root canal treatment

Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that replaces a tooth’s damaged or infected pulp with a filling.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Environmental causes - Cancer Council Australia

Your risk of cancer can increase through exposure to cancer causing agents. We explore the risks from biological, physical and chemical agents.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Nicabate Soft Gum Chewing gum - myDr.com.au

Nicabate Soft Gum Chewing gum - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback