The standard of care in the US for missing teeth is to replace the "gap" with dental implants. The implants are typically made of titanium and are placed into the jaw to aid with a tooth or a few teeth. The titanium implant can osseointegrate with the jaw. This means that the bone from the jaw can grow into the sides of the titanium implant, which will make the stability of it very solid.
During placement of a dental implant, drilling is achieved into the bone taking special care to avoid the nerves that are close by such as the inferior alveolar nerve. Typically irrigation is used during the drilling to prevent overheating.
The dental implants may be used to replace a single tooth or to support a full dental bridge, even replacing a full set of teeth. The most common form of dental implants are "root form", also termed "endosteal" implants. The shape of the implant resembles the natural root of the tooth and is ideal for those with a deep and healthy jawbone. If a patient does not have adequate bone for implant placement, a bone graft can be utilized.
Another type of dental implant that is used when the jaw is narrow and bone grafting is inappropriate is a plate form implant. Conventional surgery is used for placement with a second stage necessary to allow for initial healing.
If the patient does not have enough bone for either a root form or plate form implant, a subperiosteal dental implant may be the next best option. They have a higher failure rate and a higher cost, so this should be considered. It is a custom implant designed from an individual CT scan or dental impression with a 3-d model.
One of the more recent trends involves mini-dental implants. They are smaller versions of root form implants. Originally, the option was to use them for temporary implants, however, they have morphed into being a permanent implant option, especially for those with smaller teeth. They do not fuse as well to bone as the larger versions, but can provide an effective long lasting solution and be cheaper.
As newer techniques evolve, there are times when patients can have their dental implants placed in a single stage setting. Reasons for this evolution are that some dental practices have the 3D modeling systems in-house and do not need to outsource everything. Another reason is that there are now companies who can model everything for same stage placement. So the patient can have all of the pre-procedure work accomplished via 3d modeling, and the implant fashionable and ready to go during the one stage procedure. Check with your local dental implant specialist to see what's available.