Nothing can take the place of a healthy set of teeth, but when disease or an accident ends in tooth loss, it’s good to know that there are options for restoring your smile. If you are self-conscious because you have missing teeth or you wear dentures, there is an alternative: dental implants.
Many patients choose implants to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or to support a full set of dentures. Implants are cylinders that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. They are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body.
Single Tooth Implants
The single tooth implant replaces the missing tooth’s roots. A single tooth implant is a freestanding unit and does not involve treatment to the adjacent teeth.
If the surrounding teeth are healthy, they can remain untouched, and their strength and integrity may be maintained. The implant can stabilize your bite and help prevent problems with the jaw.
Implant-Supported Bridges and Dentures
Dental implants may be used to support a bridge when several teeth are missing. The bridge replaces the lost natural teeth and some of the tooth roots. An implant-supported bridge does not require support from adjacent teeth.
If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported denture can replace the missing teeth and some of the tooth roots. Because the dental implants integrate with the jawbone, an implant-supported denture tends to be comfortable and stable, allowing you to bite and chew naturally.
If you are missing one or more teeth, there are plenty of reasons to correct the problem:
• A gap between your teeth, if obvious when you smile or speak, is a cosmetic concern.
• Missing teeth may affect your speech.
• Missing a molar might not be noticeable when you talk or smile but its absence can affect chewing.
• When a tooth is removed, the biting force on the remaining teeth begins to change. To compensate for the lost tooth, there is a risk of extra pressure and discomfort on the jaw joints.
• If a missing tooth is not replaced, the surrounding teeth can shift. Harmful plaque and tartar can collect in new hard- to-reach places created by the shifting teeth. Over time, this may lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease.
• Bone loss can occur in the region of the missing tooth.