Most patients understand what a transplant is but not always what an implant is. Replacing missing teeth with a denture or bridge is mostly understood but a dental implant can require some basic explanation. To many patients, the idea of drilling a hole in their jawbone to place metal hardware sounds quite unappealing at first.

“Dr. What is an ‘implant.’ Is it like screwing a tooth to my jaw?”

Mrs. Jones, an implant is a little cylinder, even smaller than the size of the original tooth root that was in your jaw before. A small space is made for this cylinder in your jaw, about where the old tooth root was, and then the cylinder implant is carefully placed into this space and healthy bone grows around and stabilizes the implant which then can be used as an artificial root for a tooth or bridge anchor. It is the closest thing we have to an original healthy tooth and it can be quite strong. Some types of implant anchors can be used right away, like under a lower denture, and some require a few months of bone healing before a tooth is put on it. And always a good idea to explain (with a model preferably) that a finished implant consists of 3 parts (and 3 fees), the implant, the abutment and the crown.


Patients can shy away from implants because of
1.) Cost (comparing single implant fees to multiple tooth involvement fees for fixed prostheses is often very helpful)
2.) The idea of “metal spikes” in their jaws ( here, a brief discussion of how giant hip and knee artificial joints have been used for years to keep people walking and that the tiny dental implant keeps people chewing puts a whole new more accepting perspective on dental implants in the patient’s mind.)

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