A dental implant is an artificial tooth that is actually screwed into the gum line so that it stays in place permanently, unlike a set of dentures or a bridge that you take out every night and then put back in every morning. Dental implants can be recommended in certain circumstances and for certain patients; note a few commonly asked questions about these implants and then discuss this with your dentist if he or she has recommended one for you.

1. Why replace a cracked tooth with an implant? 

You might think that a cracked tooth should just be covered with bonding or a cap, but note that sometimes the crack is so extensive that the tooth itself cannot be salvaged. There may also not be enough of the tooth base to hold the adhesive of bonding or a cap, so these may not be an option. In these cases, it can be better to have the tooth extracted and then replace it with an implant altogether.

2. Why is a person's overall oral health a factor in choosing a dental implant?

If you have gum disease or damage to the bones of the jaw, you may not be a candidate for a dental implant. The mouth need to be strong enough to hold the implant in place and to heal after the surgery. If the bones of the jaw are softened or you've suffered bone loss such as through surgery or cancer, you may not be a good candidate for a dental implant. Advanced gum disease may mean that your mouth will not heal properly after the implant is in place. Don't assume for yourself that you're a good candidate for an implant or not, but consider these factors if your dentist tells you that an implant might not be the right choice.

3. How natural and durable are dental implants?

A dental implant will be made for your face in particular; this means the tooth will be sized and shaped to fit your jaw line and open area of a missing tooth, and also painted to match the color of your other teeth. Once the bone of the jaw fuses to the implant, it then becomes very stable. You should have no more risk of losing your implant than you would of losing any other tooth, although your dentist can tell you if smoking, certain health conditions, or other factors may increase the risk of damage to the dental implant over time.