What is a dental implant?

Anatomy of a dental implant: Comparing between natural tooth versus dental implant.

Dental implant is designed based on a natural shape of a single tooth root.

In a simple description: dental implant is a man made tooth root

Dental implant is made of Titanium or Titanium Alloy. Therefore, it’s not susceptible to decay as a natural tooth would be

Complete dental implant treatment:

Dental implant is placed into jaw bone. And is covered with a cover screw. Gum tissue is then sutured and allowed to heal.

After that, a process is called osseointegration takes place-which takes 2-6 months to complete. This allows implant to securely anchor to jaw bone

The final phase is taking impression for abutment and implant crown fabrication and deliver the abutment and crown

Osseointegration: The process of bone molecules bind themselves to titanium surface of the implant which can take 3-6 months

Why Dental Implant? It is the best way to replace a tooth lost and give the real feeling, function of a real tooth. Dental implant is a better option than a bridge because there is no need to cut down 2 adjacent healthy teeth for a bridge. It’s also easier to clean. And aesthetically pleasing.

Dental implant is also the ONLY way to secure a denture into jaw bone.


Single tooth missing and its effect:

All teeth are tightly anchored in jaw bone. When a tooth is lost, the bone will start to resorb.  Neighbor teeth then start to drift to area of missing tooth, which can lead to malocclusion. It will become difficult to clean in those areas of drifting teeth, which lead to further bone lost, gum disease and tooth decay.

Several teeth missing:

Jaw bone will resorb and thin. Also, opposing teeth can exhibit “hyper-eruption”, neighboring teeth will start to rotate and drift. Which will eventually lead to further tooth lost.

All teeth missing:

Resorption of jaw bone is 50% during first year of all teeth lost. And subsequently 10% additional of resorption occurs each year after. This will cause atrophy of the jaw, which will lead to:

Mouth and jaw collapse

Lips look thinner

Increase wrinkle near the mouth and neck

Unlike denture, which sits on gum tissue and cause bone resorption. Implant actually keeps cortical bone in jaw bone as a natural tooth would.


Options can be as simple as replace one missing tooth with one implant. Or three missing tooth with two implants as a bridge or three implants as three single tooth.

Options get complicated when more missing teeth involved or all teeth are missing:

2 implants with 2 locator attachment to denture

3 implants with 3 locator attachment to denture

4 implants with 4 locator or a bar attachment to denture

8 or 10 implants as fixed bridge

Number of implants use for each patient depends on the level of bone lost, shape and size of jaw bone, health condition of individual patient. All factors will be taken into consideration before our doctor recommends a treatment plan.

Things to consider before getting treatment:

HEALTH: Many pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, cancer (chemotherapy and radiation) may cause complications in implant treatment. It’s best to consult with our dentist at Concord Smile to check out risk and benefit before you start

LIFE STYLE: Smoking, which is frequently the cause of tooth lost, also the cause of implant failure. This does not mean a smoker who wishes to have implant can never get one. Please come see us for treatment alternative; risk & benefit assessment before starting treatment.

COST: buying an implant is like buying a car. Which implant should you get? There are more than 100 brands in the market. Each dental office would most likely use a different one.

Here are some simple guidelines that we use for our patients:

  1. Made in USA is still the golden rule to go by. Not only it’s good, it’s FDA approval
  2. European made implants can be costly, depend on the Euro exchange rate. Unknowingly, consumers can pay an incredible amount for one simple procedure due to exchange rate.
  3. Think long term: if you expect to live 20 more years or longer, think replacement.Why? Here are the reasons:Nothing last forever. Implants are connected to a crown, or denture by an screw-retained abutment. In the event a screw gets loose, or an abutment is worn. They will need replacement. Therefore, it’s smart to think ahead. A screw should not cost much, but depend on manufacturers, a screw can cost from $30 to $100. Just like car’s parts, implant’s parts can be very costly to replace depend on their manufacturers. It’s best to think far ahead and know what you are buying. Always choose a company with reasonable cost to replace parts. As much as we don’t like to replace anything; there would be a time a plastic o-ring needs to be changed, or a new screw is needed. Planning ahead can never hurt.

     4. Will the implant manufacturer still be in business when I need part 20 yrs from now?

         It’s hard to predict the future. But a company that has been in the industry for more than 20 yrs would most likely last for the next 20 yrs.

       This is when you come to an expert who knows the industry well would be a benefit. Nothing could be more heartbroken than unable to replace parts for your implant because the company no longer exists.

Implant treatment is a lifetime commitment.  We highly suggest you to consult with our dentist at Concord Smile.  Dr. Gigi places the implant, and also will be the one who restore the implant.  She knows the industry well enough to choose the best option for you, not only today, but 30 yrs down the road.  In the case you have lost all your teeth, it would be even better that it’s the same dentist to place the implants and make the denture.  That way, how your denture functions will be taken into consideration better, more thoughtful, and most important of all, a well made denture that you can eat anything you want without problem.  Come to think of it, if you have suffered long enough with a denture, would you want this done right the second time around?