Dental implants are a better option when a single tooth is missing instead of bridges and dentures. Nowadays more people are going for a single tooth implant instead of dentures or bridges.
Implants look like natural teeth and are even better as they cannot develop cavities. Also, they are a long-term solution, and if cared properly, they can last for a lifetime.
Let us understand when the dentist advises single tooth implant and the candidates who can go for single-tooth implants. Also, know the steps involved in the implant procedure.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is made of titanium and resembles the tooth root. The implant is surgically placed into the jawbone beneath the gum line and allows the dentist to place a replacement tooth in the region.
When is a single tooth implant beneficial?
Single tooth implant finds its use in people who have one or more missing teeth. The dentist places the implant in a hole in the jawbone, and this is a surgical procedure.
After the implant fuses with your bone, it will act as a tooth root for the cap to replace your missing teeth. A natural looking crown is attached to the implant to fill the gap in the mouth caused by a missing tooth.
Any healthy person who is eligible to undergo routine dental extraction or oral surgery is a perfect candidate for a dental implant.
The patient should have enough bone in the jaw, and the bone should be strong enough to hold and support the implant. Patients may have to undergo bone augmentation or bone grafting in case there is not enough bone to support an implant.
There must be adequate space for the dentist to place an implant and the surrounding teeth and gums need to be in good health.
How does a single tooth implant work?
An implant restored tooth is made up of several parts.
The constituent of an implant is titanium. Titanium forms an intimate bond with the jawbone, and this is a biologic process known as osseointegration. Dentist places the implant in the upper or lower jaw.
The abutment can be made of gold, titanium or porcelain and is attached to the implant with a screw. The abutment connects the implant to the crown, is shaped like a natural tooth which has been cut down to receive a crown.
The porcelain-fused-to-metal crown looks like the crown of a natural tooth and is screwed or cemented to the abutment. The crown can be made all metal or all porcelain also.
Single tooth implant process
The time frame of implant treatment depends on several factors. The two methods of implant procedure are the traditional method and the one-stage procedure. (1)
In the traditional method, the whole procedure takes about five to six months with a three to four months healing period in between implant and crown placement.
If bone needs to be built up before the implant procedure, then the treatment time could extend up to a year.
There are two procedures performed with a gap of three to six months between them. During the first procedure, the dentist places the implant in the bone.
The dentist gives a small incision in the gum and drills a hole in that place. After placing the implant in the hole, the dentist closes the gap with the help of surgical stitches.
After the healing period, there is a second procedure. In the second procedure, a new incision is made to expose the implant. A collar, called a healing cap, is screwed onto the top of the implant which helps the surrounding gum tissue to heal.
After a few weeks, the dentist removes the healing cap, and the abutment is screwed into the implant and used to support the crown.
In the one-stage procedure, the dentist places both the implant and healing cap at the same time. If the dentist is using mini-implants, then that will also be placed in the same visit itself.
The success rate of single-tooth implants
The success rate of implants vary but they have a success rate of 98%, and if a person takes care of his oral hygiene and follows all the instructions then the implant could last a lifetime.
The first step involves visiting your dentist for a consultation, and your dentist doing a comprehensive examination.
A dentist will take-
- Medical history
- The impression of teeth and gum to make models of your teeth
- Computed tomography (CT) scan in some cases (the scan helps determine the amount of jawbone, location of nerves and sinuses which help decide further steps accordingly)
In case you need any additional procedure like bone grafting then it will take your bone 8-10 months to be ready for implant.
The procedure of single tooth implant
First surgery – placing the implant
This surgery involves placing the implant in your jawbone. Root-form type implant is the most common type of implant used.
After the first surgery, the dentist waits for four to five months in case of the lower jaw and six to seven months in case of the upper jaw. During this period, osseointegration takes place which is a fusion of the bone and implant. (3)
Second surgery – placing the healing collar and or temporary crown
The dentist takes an x-ray after the healing period to confirm if the implant is ready for second surgery. The second surgery is simple comparatively.
The dentist places the healing cap on the head of the implant after exposing it by giving a new incision. The healing cap guides the gum tissue to heal correctly. The healing cap stays in the same place for two weeks.
After healing of gum tissue, the dentist places the abutment and a temporary crown. The permanent crown takes three to four weeks or less, and in the meantime, the temporary crown helps in further healing of gum tissue.
The temporary crown provides a cushion-like effect and protects the gum from excess masticatory forces.
Placing of the permanent crown
The permanent crown can be cemented or screwed to teeth though cemented crown gives a better look. However, crowns screwed to teeth are easy to remove in case the need arises.
What to expect from your single tooth implant?
Single tooth implant looks like natural teeth and function like one. For some patients, the implant may be placed at an angle due to the difference in the amount of bone remaining and the amount of bone required for implant surgery.
In such cases, the implant might not look exactly like your natural tooth. (2)
Over to you
Implant surgery is expensive and if you go ahead with the same then make sure you take utmost care of so that you don’t face a situation where your implant falls out.
Quit smoking if possible and if you have any problem, then visit your dentist earlier than the six-month visit.