Whether it is due to oral disease or injury, the need for replacement teeth through a dental implant is a fairly common occurrence among adults. When a single tooth or multiple teeth are missing, normal daily routines can become a struggle – chewing can be painful, speech can be impacted and more often than not, a person’s level of self-confidence can suffer deeply. In order to make the decision that is best suited for you, it is necessary to understand the various options for teeth replacement and dental implant procedures.
For the majority of individuals, dental implants are the most common way to remedy and replace a missing tooth. A dental implant is simply a tooth made of artificial material that is implanted into the jaw by a dental professional. The process involves the surgical insertion of a small metal rod directly in the bone beneath the individual’s gums, whether it is for a single tooth or for multiple missing teeth. The tooth replacement in a dental implant is called a crown, and it is attached to the metal rod in the jaw to give the appearance of a natural, smooth tooth. Most dental implants are made of titanium and are a long-lasting replacement.
The most common reason for losing a single tooth is direct injury to the mouth, although some individuals may also suffer from gum disease or cavities that have gone untreated. With single tooth replacement, a dental implant is placed with or without a built-in connector that will attach the implant to the new tooth. The dental implant is set in place first, as it needs to merge with the bones in the jaw in order to create a strong foundation for the replacement tooth. The connector, known as an abutment, is placed after the implant, and finally a custom made crown – the replacement tooth – is placed on top of the connector. For most patients, recovery time is short.
A single tooth replacement can be done with either a same day implant, also known as an immediate load dental implant, or over the course of a few visits. With the former, a temporary crown is set at the same time the implant is placed. A permanent replacement is set three to six months down the road. This allows for the restoration of function and appearance while the dental implant fuses with the jaw bone. In the more traditional method, the placement of the dental implant is done first, and then the permanent crown is placed in a subsequent appointment.
For individuals with multiple missing teeth, dental implants follow a similar procedure to single tooth replacement. However, multiple teeth replacement involves the placement of dental implants over the course of multiple visits. Individual crowns may be used as with single tooth replacements, but some patients may need or prefer a fixed bridge of multiple crowns supported by the implant as one solid structure. In either case, the dental implant must fuse with the jaw bones in order to create the most natural look and feel of the replacement.
Instead of traditional dental implants, mini dental implants, known as MDIs, may be used for multiple teeth replacement patients. These are slightly smaller than conventional implants, and are inserted in a way that is far less invasive than standard size implants.
Full replacements are less common than single or multiple teeth replacements, but the same procedures apply. However, it is much more common for temporary crowns to be placed while the dental implant is fusing to the jaw bone, with the permanent replacements being set down the road. Although single crowns can be placed, most often a full fixed bridge or implant-supported overdenture is placed in a full replacement.
For some individuals, an all-on-four approach can be completed instead of more conventional replacements. This involves the placement of four dental implants into the jaw bone with special connectors that allows for a temporary replacement set to be inserted the same day as the implants. The permanent full replacement is set around six months after the initial procedure.
Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants, most commonly due to the deterioration of the supporting bone in the jaw. When this is the case, bone augmentation may need to be done prior to any implant being placed, or you may need to stick with more conventional methods of replacement.
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