When consulting about a dental implant procedure at Highlands Ranch Oral and Facial Surgery, there are a lot of new terms you might hear or words that you are unsure of what they mean. Here is a list of common dental implant terminology to familiarize yourself with, and our staff is always happy to provide more information if needed or answer any questions you may have.


A small connector that attaches the implant to the replacement tooth to hold the tooth in place. After surgery, the abutment is often visible above the gum line.

Alveolar Ridge

The area of bone on the jaw where teeth are anchored. This is where implants are placed.


A medical treatment that prevents you from feeling pain during surgery. Anesthetics are carefully controlled and monitored during use, and the effects are only temporary. Once anesthesia is stopped, you regain awareness and sensation.

Bone Graft

A procedure to build up bone structure in the alveolar ridge before placing implants. Bone may be taken from another part of your body to use in the jaw, donor tissue may be used, or synthetic material may be used. The graft fuses to the existing bone.

Bone Loss

When teeth are missing and there is no stimulation of the bone, it can begin to resorb and bone density decreases. Significant bone loss can impact the ability to place successful dental implants and can alter facial structure.


Patients with metal allergies may receive implants made of ceramic instead. Ceramic implants are made of clay that has been hardened at high temperatures and are similar in color to natural teeth.


Also called a cap, a crown is a single prosthetic tooth that is attached to the abutment on an implant. It can also be used to cover an existing tooth that is damaged.

Dental Implant

The post or screw that is surgically implanted into the jawbone in order to hold a crown, denture, or other dental prosthetic. The implant fuses to the bone to provide strong support for the replacement tooth or teeth.

Dental Prosthesis

Implants, crowns, dentures, and bridges are all considered dental prostheses. They are used to correct intraoral defects such as missing teeth. They may be fixed or removable.


Another term for tooth loss or toothlessness. It is often used to refer to the loss of all-natural teeth.


The removal of an existing tooth, including the root.

Implant-Retained Dentures

Dentures that are held securely in place by attaching them to four to six implants placed along the jaw. Implant-retained dentures are non-removable, except by a dental professional.


The bone that forms the mouth structure and holds teeth in place. The upper jaw is called the maxilla, and the lower jaw is called the mandible.
Keratinized Tissue – the band of tissue at the base of your teeth that helps to hold natural teeth in place and protect the root of the teeth. Healthy keratinized tissue can improve the appearance of replacement teeth and also contribute to the success of dental implants.

Laughing Gas

Also known as nitrous oxide, it is a type of light sedation that helps you relax during surgery while still breathing on your own. It also has some pain-relieving properties.

Local Anesthetic

A medication used to numb the area where surgery will be performed. A common anesthetic is lidocaine. You remain fully conscious and alert, but you feel no pain in the area, only some pressure.

Oral Surgeon

A dental professional with specialized training in recognizing and treating a wide range of diseases, injuries, and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws, and hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.


The biologic process of existing bone fusing together with a dental implant to form a strong bond. It typically takes three to four months for the fusion to be complete. Once the implant has integrated with the bone, permanent dental prostheses can be attached and can withstand the pressure of biting and chewing.


Removable dentures that attach to dental implants using bars or balls and are also supported by the gums.

Replacement Tooth

A permanent crown that is used to replace a missing tooth and functions like a natural tooth. It is molded to blend in with existing teeth and fit snugly in the gap.


Anesthesia used to help you relax and remain comfortable during surgery. IV sedation is also referred to as “twilight sedation” as you are not completely unconscious and drift in and out of sleep.

Soft Tissue Graft

The transplanting of a small amount of gum tissue from one location in the mouth to another. This can be done to improve the aesthetics of the gums and help support replacement teeth.


An extremely strong and durable metal used to manufacture dental implants. It is biocompatible, meaning that it integrates with existing bone easily. Despite being strong, it is lightweight and noncorroding. Titanium allergies are rare, so this type of implant can be used in most patients with no negative effects.


If you have an allergy to titanium, a zirconia implant can be used. It is another type of strong metal, but it is white in color as opposed to silver.