Another option for a missing a tooth is the single tooth implant or multiple implants. Implant work is a very exact science usually performed by an oral surgeon, periodontist or a prosthodontist.
- First, the dental team assesses whether you're a good candidate for an implant by examining the quantity and quality of the bone and using x-rays or a dental CAT scan to determine the location and the type of restoration that can go over it.
- If the location is in your aesthetic zone (toward the front of your mouth) and you have a high smile line, it's important that the implant be positioned perfectly. Placing an implant is a time consuming surgical procedure.
- After the original tooth is removed, the area requires a three to six month healing period before the implant restoration can go in.
- During this healing time, the bone grows in and around the titanium implant creating a very strong support. However, if the bone or surrounding tissue doesn't grow in as well as hoped, there are grafting procedures that can help with the soft tissue aesthetics.
Implants are right for you if:
- You're missing one or more teeth and have enough bone in the area to accommodate the anchorage of the implant(s). If you don't have enough bone to do the job, a bone graft might remedy the issue.
Advantages of implants:
- You don't have to alter the adjacent teeth
- They're easier to maintain. You can floss these restorations because they're individual and not splinted in a bridge.
- Equal distribution of force (it's less taxing on the neighboring teeth).
Disadvantages of implants:
- When it's aesthetically important, it can be difficult to blend the soft tissue in naturally.
- Dental implants can sometimes be rejected, but this happens no more than 2 percent of the time. When it happens, the implant is usually replaced with another one that's slightly larger. Smokers and diabetics have the highest risk of implant failure; with them, the likelihood of failure rises up to 8-12 percent.
- Implants can last 15-20 years.