A single tooth implant is the best treatment option for replacing a missing tooth because it is most similar to a natural tooth. It also returns a single tooth without sacrificing the health of the teeth around it. A bridge requires that surrounding teeth be milled down to support the cemented bridge.
A single implant is more visually appealing and more accessible to clean than a bridge. A bone that deteriorates beneath a bridge can change the look of your smile. If gums around a bridge recede, you may be able to see the metal base or collar. Bone loss can also occur with bridges.
A dental implant fuses onto your jawbone, helping to preserve the bone’s health and keep it intact. An implant entirely replaces the root, thus allowing the bone to be better preserved. As such, a long-lasting and natural smile can better be achieved thanks to only a single tooth implant rather than a bridge.
The first thing to know about the implant process is that it will take a significant amount of time to complete. While several factors can have an affect on the time frame necessary to complete the full procedure, the average amount of time to complete a dental implant is about five months for the lower jaw and six months for the upper jaw. However, in some instances, the complete process may take as long as a full year.
In the most common method for placing dental implants, there are multiple steps. The first will involve making a small incision in the gum at the implant’s intended location. Next, the dentist will drill a hole into the bone, then placing the implant into the hole and stitching the incision closed. Following the required healing period, the second procedure will involve making a new incision to place a healing cap, known as a collar, on top of the implant to assist the surrounding tissue with healing. After a waiting period of a matter of weeks, the collar is removed and an abutment is attached to the implant as a support for the crown.
In some cases, patients will need to explore options for building up bone in their jawline to ensure enough is present to attach a dental implant. Among the options available are procedures such as bone grafting or bone distraction. The grafting process would require taking bone from a separate source either from your own body, or from the bone of pigs or a cow. Synthetic materials such as hydroxyapatite or calcium phosphate are also valid options. The process of bone distraction, however, is slower and results in more bone growing by using pins and screws to slowly pull apart the existing bone. Should either process be required, an additional 4 to 12 months will be necessary before the bone is ready to receive the implant.
The standard risks of surgery apply to dental implants. And while implants have a very high recorded success rate, there also exists that chance that an implant will fail, which is generally caused by an infection or a maladjusted bite. Meanwhile, if the patient clenches or grinds their teeth regularly, this can result in unnecessary pressure on the implant resulting in bone loss, ultimately causing the implant to break or fail.