Three million people in the United States have dental implants, and that number continues to grow. Teeth can be lost for many different reasons, such as decay or trauma. However, regardless of the reason a tooth is missing, a dental implant provides a natural-looking, functional replacement option.

Each implant is made up of a screw, an abutment and a crown. The screw, which is typically made of a nonreactive metal such as titanium, is surgically inserted into the jawbone. Over time, the implant screw fuses with the bone through a process called osseointegration. The implant abutment connects the screw to the implant crown.

Here are a few reasons that a dental implant may be prescribed: 


Dental bridges are used to replace missing teeth. However, if multiple teeth in the same area are missing, there may not be enough available to support a bridge.

On a typical bridge, the false tooth or teeth lie in the middle. The bridge is bordered on each side by a dental crown.

Each crown is usually placed over a natural tooth that has been slightly debrided so that the crown affixes properly and does not distort the natural boundary of your teeth. However, if there is a space where a supporting tooth should lie, a dental implant may be installed to serve as a supportive base for the crown.

Some bridges, which are called cantilever bridges, only use a supportive tooth for one side of the bridge. These bridges are not commonly used because of the additional stress that may be placed on the single supporting tooth. In addition, your dentist may be hesitant to use a dental implant to support a cantilever bridge because of the additional stress.

Preventing Shifting

Even if a missing tooth is a molar that is not easily seen when you speak or smile, it can affect the alignment of the other teeth in your mouth. Teeth that are present help maintain alignment by serving as placeholders. However, a gap can allow the teeth to migrate out of position and cause bite and alignment issues.

Prevent Sunken Appearance

Your face may incur a sunken appearance in the area of a lost tooth. Since teeth support the cheek and jaw and prevent them from caving inward, lost teeth can have an adverse effect on your appearance, even when your mouth is closed.

If you have lost one or more teeth, your dentist may prescribe a dental implant. However, before an implant can be prescribed, your dentist will need to assess your teeth and ensure that you have enough jawbone to support the installation. Schedule an appointment with a dentist such as Peter J. Kaufman, DMD to learn more.