Tooth loss is one of the most common dental issues that adult Americans have. In fact, research has shown that most people will have lost at least one permanent tooth by the time they reach 35 years old. Unfortunately, even just one missing tooth can have both psychological and physiological effects. The extent of these depends on exactly where in your smile your missing tooth is and generally, the nearer the front of your mouth, the greater the impact will be.
Our teeth are most associated with helping us to bite and chew our food. However, they are also instrumental in our speech. When we make different sounds, our tongue pushes up against them to help us form the letters we want to say. When we are missing one or more teeth, the way in which we pronounce our letters may change. We may also have to alter the way in which we eat our food. Fortunately, there is a solution that can prevent us from needing to make these compromises. This solution is single tooth dental implants.
Single tooth dental implants are a fairly new and revolutionary way of replacing individual missing teeth. This is because, unlike other solutions, in addition to providing a visible replacement for the missing tooth, which is made from a bespoke crown, they also restore the root. This root takes the form of a titanium post which is placed into the jawbone beneath the gap in your smile. This surgical procedure is carried out through an incision into the gum tissue. The post is secured permanently through a natural process called osseointegration. This is where the bone heals around the implant post to prevent it coming out. It is this process that gives dental implants the stability and durability for which they are known.
Osseointegration takes a number of months to occur. During this time, patients are fitted with a temporary, generic crown so that they can still use their teeth normally while the bone heals.
In the past, the only effective solution for replacing a single tooth was a bridge. A bridge has a false tooth (pontic) which is supported on each side by a dental crown (abutment). The false tooth sits in the gap, with the crowns attached to healthy teeth on either side. However, not only does this mean that natural, healthy teeth have to be filed down unnecessarily to accept the crown, but over time, the bridge will place strain on these teeth. It isn’t uncommon for these abutment teeth to become damaged due to the stress that they are under.
Choosing a single tooth dental implant doesn’t only eliminate the unnecessary preparation of healthy teeth and the stress placed on them. Other common reasons for choosing an implant over a bridge include:
- Greater stability of your restoration with no embarrassing slips
- A more comfortable fit
- A permanent solution that requires little to no maintenance
- Teeth that are easier to clean, meaning better oral health
- Great discretion since an implant can be made to look just like your natural tooth
- Reinforcement of the jawbone itself, something which often deteriorates when there is no natural root to stimulate it
For a patient to be a good candidate for a single dental implant, or any dental implant solution, they must have a sufficient amount of healthy bone in their jaw. If there isn’t enough healthy, dense bone, it may not heal around the implant post and this could cause osseointegration to fail and the implant to come loose.
The quality of your jawbone will be assessed before you can be approved for a dental implant procedure. However, if you are found to not have enough healthy bone in your jaw, it doesn’t mean that you can never benefit from dental implants. A procedure called bone grafting can encourage fresh bone growth and make implants a possibility. If you may need bone grafting, this will be discussed with you at your consultation appointment.
If you would like more information about single tooth dental implants, or if you would like to book an appointment to discuss your suitability for this solution, please contact our offices.