Single Tooth Dental Implants

You may have lost a single tooth as a result of an accident or injury. This can be replaced with an implant and in fact, having a dental implant in between your natural teeth is the most successful dental procedure. Success rates are nearly 100% perfect.

A single tooth implant does not affect your other teeth, looks better and is easy to keep clean. It is kept clean in exactly the same way as your other teeth.

If your jawbone is not deep or strong enough for an implant then a bone graft will be required.

Single tooth implants can be carried out on both front and back teeth. Mini implants can be used although some dentists prefer the normal, full sized ones.

The procedure is as normal: the dentist will make a tiny incision in your gum in order to access your jawbone. He or she will then drill a small hole in this bone before inserting the implant. The implant will look like a small metal rod and is either cylinder or screw shaped.

This is inserted into the jaw. The incision is closed and given time to heal. This is usually a period of 3 to 6 months. During that time the implant will fuse with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration. A temporary tooth or crown will be fitted during that time, purely for cosmetic reasons.

Once this has happened, a second procedure will be carried out. The dentist will open up the original wound before fixing a small attachment or abutment to the implant. This will enable him/her to fasten an artificial tooth or restoration to the abutment.

This is usually done in two stages although there is the option of having this done all in one go, known as ‘immediate loading’.

Are there likely to be any problems with this procedure?

Single tooth implants are usually straightforward but there is a condition called ‘poor soft tissue result’. If the tissues of the gum have not been properly dealt then you can end up with a dark line around your restoration.

In some cases, the gum is so thin that the implant itself is visible.

From an aesthetic point of view this looks unattractive and unwanted. Not to mention the fact that it can make the patient feel self-conscious and reluctant to smile.

The only way of dealing with this is by soft tissue grafting. This means taking thicker gum tissue from the palate of the mouth and grafting this onto the area which holds the implant.

There are different types of single tooth implants.

All Ceramic Central Incisor

This is a type of artificial tooth, made of ceramic which is strong and natural looking. It is also biocompatible: by this we mean it works well with the human body, with no risk of rejection or an allergic reaction.

They are non-metallic as well which replaces the old PFM or ‘porcelain to metal’ type restorations. The advantage of this is no risk of ugly, ‘metallic’ lines on show if the gum recedes – which is often the case.

They look and act in much the same way as natural teeth and so need the same amount of looking after! This means cleaning them twice a day and regular check ups at your dentist.

This treatment involves several stages from the initial consultation through to the final restorations. It starts with an initial consultation with your dentist in which your reasons for an implant are discussed in a frank and honest manner.

X-rays and/or a CT scan are arranged to show the exact position of the intended implant. If your jaw shows sign of bone loss or ‘bone resorption’ then you will be advised to have a bone graft.

This treatment can be undertaken as a two stage process.

The first stage can involve implant insertion plus taking an impression of the patient’s jaw in order to produce a cast. This cast can be used to build a temporary restoration.

The second stage involves the fitting of an abutment followed by the placing of the restoration.

Anterior Implant Crown

This refers to a type of restoration which is used to replace a loose or missing tooth at the front of the mouth. In the case of a loose tooth the dentist will replace this with a dental implant and allow time for it to fuse before fitting a crown (a type of ‘cap).

Front Tooth Replacement (Maxillary Lateral Incisor/s)

The maxillary lateral incisor is a tooth located in the bottom jaw, usually around the midline of your face. Its main function is for chewing.

However, these can be missing, often due to an injury or as a congenital defect. If this happens then they will need to be replaced and the best means of doing so is via implants.

These are inserted in the usual manner.

Front Tooth Replacement (Maxillary Central Incisor/s)

These teeth are also situated in the front of your lower jaw and are the most easily seen of all your teeth. If one or more of these are missing, or require removal then implants can be used to replace them.

The procedure is carried out in the usual way.

Immediate Single Tooth Replacement (Lateral Incisor Replacement)

This treatment is similar to above but, is completed in one session rather than a two stage process; in other words, ‘immediate loading’.

By that we mean that you undergo the insertion of the implant, followed by the attaching of the abutment and then, the placing of the restoration – all in a single procedure.

You need to have healthy teeth and a jawbone with enough depth and width to hold the implants.

This instant procedure is becoming more popular but be aware that there is a greater risk of failure than with the normal ‘two stage’ procedure.

If you are having just the one tooth replaced then you will find that your dentist will use a crown as a replacement. This crown can be made of porcelain, ceramic or metal and will blend in well with your other teeth.

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