A Patients’ Glossary of Dental Implants

If you’re interested in replacing your missing teeth with implants, you’ve probably just begun researching your options. As your research continues, you’ll need to know some key terms. Over the past few days, we’ve answered frequently asked questions about the cost of dental implants and discussed whether the procedure is worth the investment in time and money. Today, we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of dental implants and supplying a handy guide to some frequently used terms.


This intermediary piece secures the implant post to the restoration. Abutments can be placed in a separate procedure or during the initial placement of the posts.

Dental Imaging

An umbrella term for any type of imaging technology used in the planning and execution of a dental implants procedure, dental imaging technology includes digital x-rays, intraoral photography, and 3D cone beam CAT scan. These tools help the implant dentist or oral surgeon plan where and how to insert the implant posts.

Dental Sedation

A general term for any type of medication that induces a state of relaxation and detachment, nearly all dental implant patients undergo at least one form of dental sedation during the initial placement of the implant posts. The most common types of dental sedation currently used in the United States include:

  • Nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas or inhalation sedation). This type of dental sedation is safe for even young children and produces a low-level sense of relaxation and euphoria. Nitrous oxide can be adjusted easily to suit the patient and the effects wear off within a few minutes.
  • Oral sedation (also known as pill sedation and oral conscious sedation). Anti-anxiety medications are ingested in pill form prior to the patient’s appointment. The effects of oral sedation will linger for at least a few hours after dental implant surgery.
  • IV sedation. A licensed and certified dentist, oral surgeon, or anesthesiologist can administer IV sedation safely. This sedation method induces a sleep-like state of relaxation. Its effects linger for several hours after the appointment.

Implant Post

This part of the device was designed to replace the root of the missing tooth. Made from titanium and shaped like a small screw, the implant post is inserted into the jaw surgically. Here, the surrounding bone tissue will fuse it into place over the next few months.


This umbrella term refers to any type of artificial teeth that, once fixed to the implant post via the abutment, replace the visible, functional portion of a natural tooth. Also called a “prosthetic,” the restoration can be a porcelain crown, bridge, partial denture, or full denture plate. Restorations are usually placed at a separate appointment, once the implant post has fully healed and fused in place. “Immediate load” restorations are placed at the same time the implant posts go in.

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and certification in sedation dentistry, Shawn Hofkes, DDS is qualified to place and restore all types of dental implants from our comfortable, state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.