Not very long ago, when someone lost a tooth or teeth that often meant there was a (fixed) bridge or a removable partial denture in store for that patient to maintain esthetics and / or chewing ability. These days, for most patients, dental implants provide for another great option.
Dental implants can be used to replace just a single lost tooth or to replace an entire set of teeth. There are big differences between the two approaches, however, that your dentist can discuss.
With a single tooth implant, unlike with fixed bridgework, there is the advantage of not having to reshape the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth space. Especially when these side teeth have nothing wrong with them in the way of big fillings or existing crowns, implants are often the best option. Also, when a tooth is lost, the jaw begins the process of slowly dissolving away in this area. But when an implant is placed back, this stops this dissolving away of the jaw bone. Over the course of time, patients who have lost teeth and who have not replaced them with implants, can experience a great deal of jaw bone loss in those areas.
Once this is in place the dentist then fits and secures the crown. So there are actually three individual components: The implant, the abutment and the crown, and as long as you realize that we all may speak with the shorthand terminology of saying “implant” or “dental implant” to mean all three components, that eliminates a lot of misunderstanding.
When multiple teeth are replaced, you gain ability to chew with greater force than with a removable partial dentures or full dentures, and therefore do not feel compromised with what you can effectively chew. Dental implants have an excellent success rate, having been a service provided by dentists and dental specialists for decades.