Why are implants needed?
Once teeth are lost, the bone in which they are embedded gradually disappears because it is no longer required to support the teeth. The teeth and lost bone are usually replaced by removable dentures or fixed bridges to restore appearance, speech and mastication (chewing function). As with all manmade substitutes for nature’s living tissues, there are drawbacks to artificial appliances. Dentures reduce masticatory (chewing) efficiency and can suffer from poor retention. On the other hand, bridges involve cutting away healthy teeth in order to provide support.
An alternative method of tooth replacement is to insert implants into the jawbone to support the false tooth or teeth. Such implants may become firmly attached or integrated with the bone and act in a similar manner to a tooth root. If an implant is placed immediately or soon after a tooth is extracted, jawbone is preserved and its further loss prevented. For this reason it is best not to delay the decision to place implants, as bone will be lost with time which can make the placement of implants more difficult. However, even after considerable bone loss has occurred, it may still be possible to place an implant although additional bone grafting techniques may be required.