Life today is all about having options. You can watch pretty much every movie ever made right this moment, and you can have any kind of food delivered right to your door step. Fortunately, when it comes to replacing your missing teeth, you have options as well. Of them all, dental implants are widely recognized as the best tooth replacement solution available today by both patients and dentists alike, and thankfully, they can be used to restore any number of teeth to help people get their complete smile back.
A Single Tooth
If a person is missing a single tooth, it can easily be restored using a single dental implant. The implant itself is a small titanium post that is placed directly into the jaw in order to mimic the root structure of a lost tooth, and this is then attached to the new replacement tooth. After the implant has been placed, your dentist will attach a metal support to it called an abutment that will stick out above your gum line. This will then be covered with an all-porcelain crown. Dental porcelain is one of the most advanced materials in all of dentistry, as it can be specially shaped and shaded to perfectly replicate a natural tooth in every way.
Consecutive Missing Teeth
Traditionally, if a patient is missing a few teeth consecutively, a dental bridge would be used to fill the gap. While this is effective, it requires that the healthy teeth surrounding the space be filed down to fit dental crowns that are used to support the prosthetic teeth. If a patient does not have enough dental structure to support a bridge, however, dental implants can help provide that for them.
In this case, two implant-retained crowns (like those we discussed in the previous section) will be positioned on either side of the gap in a person’s smile, and these will be attached to prosthetic teeth that sit above the gum line. Compared to a traditional bridge, implant-retained bridges tend to look better, last longer, and provide much better function.
Multiple Missing Teeth
For a person who is missing multiple teeth throughout their mouth or even an entire row, dental implants can even be used to support a new kind of denture. With an implant-retained denture, multiple implants are placed into the jaw, and the denture is attached directly to them. This can work for both partial and full dentures. Compared to traditional ones, implant-retained dentures are much more stable, maintain their fit longer, and give a patient a much stronger bite force.
Typically, implant-retained dentures require a patient to have 5-8 posts placed, but for those who do not have enough healthy jawbone for this to be possible, there is also a procedure called All-On-4. With this, your dentist can use just four strategically placed implants to support an entire full denture. It works by placing the posts where the jawbone is naturally thicker and stronger. This method is so efficient, in fact, that the implants and the denture can be placed in just one appointment.
Which Option is Right For You?
If you find yourself working around your missing teeth every day, whether that means you simply don’t smile or consciously limit your food choices, dental implants can help you get your life back. To see which one of these options is right for you, simply contact an implant dentist in your area, and after a consultation, they’ll be able to help you decide and you can begin rebuilding your smile.
About the Author
Dr. John Hagerty is a family, cosmetic, and implant dentist based in Lansing, MI. A Michigan native, Dr. Hagerty has been serving the community for over 25 years using a wide array of dental services, and he continues to expand his knowledge and skillset every year. He currently practices at Hagerty Dentistry, and he can be reached through his website or by phone at (517) 481-4170.