A natural tooth consists of a crown (the part you see above the gum), and the root (the part hidden under the gum, within the jawbone). It is the root that actually holds the natural tooth in place. When a person is missing a tooth, an implant replaces it. Dental implants are metallic cylinders that are placed into the jawbone where original teeth once existed. These root-like cylinders are used to secure a fabricated tooth, in the place where a natural tooth is missing.
If after a review of your dental history, dental x-rays, and a thorough oral evaluation, it is decided that an implant is right for you, the following steps will take place. First, the implant is placed in the jaw where the previous root was located. It is then covered with a healing cap. If the tooth is in an aesthetic area (in the smile), a temporary tooth can be placed. This is a simple outpatient procedure. Most patients are surprised by how easy the process is and report very little discomfort afterwards. Many go about their regular routine the next day. At this point the implant is left to fuse with the bone to allow stable support. This usually takes 4-6 months.