A dental implant is a small titanium shaft surgically implanted into the bone (where a tooth was previously extracted, and allowed to integrate.  Bone then grows around the implant, forming a tight connection.  The implant's presence additionally slows (or stops) the bone loss that occurs when the root of a natural tooth is missing. Once the implant is firmly set in the bone, the dentist will place a crown onto the top of the implant. 

Implants can also be used as support as part of an implant bridge. This is an alternative to partial or full dentures, and has many advantages.