If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and a crown can replace it. A dental implant replaces both the lost natural tooth and its root.
Before dental implants, the only way to restore a missing tooth permanently was to create a fixed bridge. A fixed bridge involved cutting down teeth on either side of the missing tooth and using them as anchors for the bridge. The bridge would then be cemented into the patient's mouth.
Dental implants offer significant advantages over a fixed bridge: