A single tooth implant is a permanent fixed replacement of a missing or broken down tooth. A titanium implant is inserted in the jawbone to serve as the anchor for the replacement tooth (a crown).
It is often advantageous to insert the implant at the same time as the extraction of the tooth, this is called ‘immediate placement’ of the dental implants. Usually the titanium fixture would be allowed to heal under the gum for approximately 3 months, or longer if any sort of grafting or tissue reconstruction was required, before the crown can be fitted.
However, in some cases it is indeed possible to fit an immediate replacement tooth to the titanium insert, thus loading the implant, which is called ‘immediate loading’ of the tooth implant.
Immediate placement involves a process whereby, in the first instance, the tooth is removed and its residual socket is cleaned from any infection or debris in preparation for the fixture placement.
The bone integrity of the site is then assessed and a decision is made as to whether the tooth implant can be placed at that time, with or without additional tissue augmentation, or whether the socket should be allowed to heal before placing the titanium fixture.
A bone graft and/or gum graft may be required when there are additional risk factors present for recession or failure of dental implants that may affect the aesthetic outcome. Bone grafting may be required when the outer aspect of the bone socket is very thin after the extraction, or when the size of the socket is much larger than the size of the titanium insert.