When a tooth cannot be saved and needs to be extracted, a dental implant is a great option to replace it. In a few situations, an implant can be placed immediately after the tooth is extracted, and a temporary crown attached to it. This is a great situation for a front tooth, where it is not ideal to have a missing tooth for a period of time. More commonly, however, the implant is placed in the area where the tooth is missing and allowed to heal for a period of a few months. At that time, a permanent crown is then attached to the implant. During this period of healing, a temporary appliance (similar to a retainer) is worn to fill in the space. If the tooth being replaced is a posterior tooth that cannot be seen during smiling or talking, a temporary is often not needed.
Some situations require a bone grafting procedure prior to the placement of a dental implant. This is typically a simple procedure that is often performed at the time the tooth is extracted. It requires the application of a paste, which contains bone-forming minerals, to the extraction socket. This improves the density and quality of the bone as it heals, resulting in better integration (healing) of the implant. It often lengthens the total treatment time by a few months, but improves the final result.