Dental health is vital for a complete smile, and missing teeth can greatly impact your confidence and quality of life. Fortunately, advancements in restorative dentistry, such as dental implants and replacement teeth, present a remedy for tooth loss.
But what exactly is a tooth implant, and how a dental implant is done?
This guide will offer you a brief overview of the dental implant process, particularly focusing on the replacement of a single tooth.
What Is a Single Tooth Implant?
A single tooth implant is a dental procedure aimed at filling the void created by a lost tooth with an artificial tooth or dental crown. Your oral surgeon or dental specialist places a titanium implant (the artificial tooth root) into the jaw bone during the implant surgery. This titanium implant imitates the function of a tooth root, providing a stable and sturdy base for the dental crown.
So, how is a tooth implant performed, or what is the procedure for a tooth implant?
Initially, the patient goes through a thorough examination to assess their suitability for the procedure. After the implant integrates with the jaw bone during a healing phase, focused on bone growth, the dentist attaches a custom-made dental crown, bridges, or dentures. Any replacement tooth you choose is designed to blend with the color and shape of the patient’s natural teeth, ensuring a seamless look.
Why Do People Choose Single Tooth Implants?
Dental implants are widely regarded as the common type of treatment for tooth loss due to their numerous advantages.
Replicates Natural Teeth
Single-tooth implants are considered effective due to their ability to replicate the appearance and function of real teeth. Each implant crown, whether temporary or permanent, is uniquely designed to match the color, size, and shape of surrounding teeth. Thus, the process promotes not only a return to dental health but also a contribution to a healthy smile.
Prevents Bone Loss
After a tooth extraction, the potential for bone loss is high due to resorption; that’s where the jaw bone starts shrinking due to lack of stimulation. Single-tooth implants help stimulate the jaw bone, similar to a natural tooth root, thereby maintaining a healthy jawbone and preserving your facial structure.
Ensures Protection of Adjacent Teeth
Unlike dental bridges, the placement of a single tooth implant does not require the modification or grinding down of adjacent teeth, thereby protecting your surrounding healthy teeth. This is particularly beneficial in cases where the adjacent teeth are healthy, and the dentist prefers not to disturb or damage them.
Promises a High Success Rate
Single-tooth dental implants, being a popular type of dental implants among both endosteal implants and subperiosteal implants, boast a high success rate. Factors like the patient’s overall health conditions, adherence to proper care of the implant, and regular dental visits significantly contribute to the long-term success of the implant.
Provides Long-Lasting and Convenient Solutions
Unlike removable dentures, single-tooth implants provide a long-lasting solution that doesn’t have to be taken out for daily cleaning or require specific adhesive or cleaning solutions. With proper oral health procedures, the implant can last a lifetime, making it a worthwhile investment for long-term oral health.
When Is a Single Tooth Dental Implant Needed?
- Replacement of a Single Missing Tooth. A dental implant can be a viable solution if you’ve lost a single tooth due to periodontal disease, injury, or tooth decay and seek a long-lasting one tooth replacement. The implant can effectively replicate the natural look and function of your lost tooth. If you have several missing teeth, multiple implants or dental bridges may be recommended.
- Prevention of Bone Resorption. A missing tooth can lead to bone loss in your jaw, a condition known as resorption. The implant, serving as an artificial root, provides necessary stimulation to your jawbone, helps maintain healthy bone, and prevents further bone loss.
- Avoidance of Damage to Adjacent Teeth. Conventional dental bridges often require the filing down of adjacent teeth for support. With a single tooth implant, your surrounding healthy teeth remain undisturbed, thus maintaining their strength.
- Enhancement of Overall Dental Appearance and Speech. When a tooth is missing, it can affect your facial profile and speech. By filling the gap with a dental implant, your natural facial shape is maintained, and speech clarity is improved.
- Long-lasting, Convenient Solution. Unlike removable coms and traditional dentures, dental implants are a fixed solution that doesn’t require being pulled out for cleaning and can last a lifetime with proper care.
- Promotion of Oral Hygiene. Dental implants require the same care as natural teeth, involving regular brushing and flossing and routine check-ups with your dental provider. Such a healthy oral healthcare routine can be easily maintained with dental implants.
What to Expect During a Dental Implant Procedure
Step #1: Initial Consultation and Developing an Implant Treatment Plan
The procedure commences with a consultation appointment where your dentist reviews your dental and medical conditions. The creation of a customized treatment plan follows, providing you with an estimate of the entire process and healing time involved in the dental implant placement.
Step #2: Extraction, Bone Graft, or Sinus Lift (if Needed)
If a damaged tooth remains in the jaw, the dentist carries out a minor surgery for tooth extraction. In some cases, the oral surgeon might decide, based on the healthiness of the jaw bone and gum tissue, to perform the implant post-placement in the same appointment.
Also, if the jaw bone is too thin or not tall enough, a bone graft might be required to provide support for the implant. In some cases, a sinus lift may also be needed to make space for the implant.
Step #3: Dental Implant Surgery
During this step, your oral surgeon drills a hole in your jawbone and inserts the dental implant screw. This procedure is usually done under local anesthesia, and you may feel pressure but not pain. For patients with dental fear or need to undergo complex procedures, sedation dentistry may be offered.
After the implant is placed, your dentist will close the gum tissue with stitches or use a temporary healing cap to cover the implant.
Step #4: Healing and Bone Growth
Following the surgery, you enter the healing phase. During this time, the jaw bone grows around the implanted metal post in a process called osseointegration, creating a solid base for the artificial tooth. Post-surgery healing time varies between patients, and it can take between a few weeks to a couple of months or more.
During this period, a temporary tooth may be placed to avoid disturbing the implant area. Some might experience minor bleeding or swelling in these months of healing, but over-the-counter medications can help manage the discomfort.
Step #5: Abutment Placement
After the successful integration of your jaw bone with the implant, the addition of an abutment follows. The abutment is a small metal post that connects the new tooth to the implant. It might sometimes be installed during the initial implant surgery or instructional implant surgery.
Step #6: Creation and Attachment of Prosthetic Replacement (Crown, Dentures, or Bridges)
Finally, to mimic your natural teeth, a custom-made prosthetic tooth or dental crown, constructed based on impressions of your teeth, is adhered to the abutment. The result is a replacement tooth that functions and feels similar to a real tooth – a noticeable improvement in your dental health.
How Long Does a Single Tooth Dental Implant Take?
The duration of the entire process for a single-tooth dental implant varies depending on the patient’s oral health, the need for additional surgeries like bone grafting or sinus lift, and the location of the missing tooth. Typically, this entire process could take anywhere from 5 to 8 months. This proposed healing time is aimed at fostering a healthy bone and offering a well-integrated and natural-looking dental implant.
The Road to Your Radiant Smile Starts With Legacy Dentistry
Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of the dental implant and what to expect from a single-tooth replacement, take the next important step toward your perfect smile. Our team of dental professionals is poised to support you wholly on this journey. From answering questions about dental implant steps to understanding different types of implants, your path to a radiant smile starts by scheduling a consultation with us.
Get in touch with us today, and let us help you restore your healthy smiles.