Dental implants are the preferred way to replace missing teeth. A dental implant is a titanium screw that replaces your tooth root. Once placed, your bone integrates to the dental implant, anchoring it in place. Four to six months later, the implant crown (cap) is connected to the implant replacing your missing tooth. Implants feel, chew, and look so natural that you'll soon forget it’s even there! Dental implants and implant crowns can be used to replace a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, or all of your teeth as an alternative to traditional, removable plastic dentures.
Restoring a missing tooth area with a dental implant and implant crown requires about one year, from the time your tooth is removed until the final crown is connected to the dental implant. This accounts for healing of the bone in the tooth removal site and integration of the titanium implant. The first phase of treatment is performed by our periodontist who removes your tooth, evaluates your bone, and places the dental implant. Placement of the dental implant by our periodontist is done in our office, under local anesthesia. It takes 4-6 months for your bone to integrate with the dental implant; until integration is achieved, your dental implant cannot receive its final implant crown. During the integration time, most patients live with an empty tooth space, (unless you’re missing a front tooth, of course), electing to go without a temporary tooth. The second phase is fabrication of the implant crown, which is completed by your general dentist; this involves making an impression of the empty space, then 3 weeks later cementing the implant crown onto the dental implant.
Single dental implant crowns are treated just like natural teeth; you can floss normally and chew comfortably. This is a major advantage over traditional bridgework which requires floss threading to clean underneath the fake tooth area.
Results of Treatment:
Best method to replace missing teeth.
Average Lifespan of Treatment:
25+ years. Typically, one can expect a dental implant and crown to last a lifetime.
Advantages and Other Considerations:
Unlike bridgework which requires neighboring teeth to be crowned to span the missing tooth site, a dental implant functions on its own
Your dental implant crown flosses and chews like a normal tooth; no special hygiene routine is needed.
Just slightly more expensive than bridgework, but better longevity, cosmetic appearance, and feel.
Unless the tooth to be removed is a front tooth, you will be living with an empty space for the better part of 6 months; most people are okay with this because the space doesn’t show when you smile.
Temporary teeth to fill the space can be made but are removable, more costly, and often not worn by patients.
With prosthetic dentistry, bridgework is a way to replace missing teeth without using dental implant techniques. There are fixed bridges, where teeth are either bonded to, or capped over, to replace the missing tooth.
In this animated loop, an artificial tooth is centered between two dental crowns to form the bridge. The dental bridge is then cemented to the natural teeth on either side of the space.
Generally three to four weeks.
Daily cleaning under bridgework with floss threaders.
Results of Treatment:
Cosmetic replacement of lost tooth or teeth.
Average Range of Treatment Life Expectancy:
Ten to fifteen years average life.
Improves your bite.
Helps prevent movement of adjacent and opposing teeth.
Making a dental bridge requires capping the neighboring teeth to span the empty tooth space.
In some cases it may be difficult to make look natural because of the size and shape of the missing tooth space.
Expert dental skill is needed to match porcelain color to your natural tooth color.
Bridgework requires the use of a floss threader to clean underneath the fake tooth, otherwise the capped natural teeth can re-decay.
If you are missing teeth or if many of your teeth are unrestorable (due to periodontal disease and/or tooth decay), the traditional approach to restoring your smile was removable plastic “dentures.” Depending on your specific gum and bone situation, you may get along well with traditional dentures. However today, with dental implants, we can use a non-removable, bridgework approach to fix implant crowns to multiple implants, thus allowing a more natural look and chewing feel. These are known as implant bridges.
Advantages and Considerations:
An Implant Bridge stays is fixed in place and does not need to be removed
Feels and chews like your natural teeth because it is fixed in place
Superior cosmetic results, the ultimate natural looking smile
Length of treatment is variable but considerably longer than traditional dentures due to the time needed for bone integration of the dental implants.
Generally more expensive than traditional dentures.
Requires the use of floss threaders keep clean underneath the implant crowns.
35 years ago, before modern implant dentistry, there were two options to replace missing teeth: One option was bridgework; the other was a removable bridge. This partial “denture” with metal frame and plastic teeth could be worn during the day to restore your smile and removed at night. The removable bridge, although done less frequently, is still a good alternative for many patients today. We sometimes prescribe removable bridges in the event of tooth removal to temporarily fill in the space of a missing tooth.