Single Tooth Implant
A single missing tooth can ruin your smile and make you self-conscious about your teeth. While there are solutions to replace a missing tooth, the best and most permanent solution is a single tooth implant. An implant not only replaces the functionality of your missing tooth, but it also resembles the missing tooth so well that no one will be able to tell the implant from the surrounding teeth. Find out if you’re a good candidate to receive a single tooth implant at Albany County Dental Associates.
A single tooth implant may be the right solution for you. A safe, permanent solution, a single tooth implant procedure has evolved as the favored tooth replacement technique. In fact, though, implants have a long history in dental treatment. The earliest discovered implants belonged to the Mayan people around 600 AD when they used pieces of seashells in place of mandibular teeth. Today’s implants are much more complex.
Today’s single tooth implants are composed of a three-piece configuration:
- The implant post or foundation consists of a titanium screw that’s surgically inserted into either your upper or lower jawbone. It eventually fuses itself to the bone.
- The implant terminates at the gum line, where an abutment screws into the post. The abutment is made of porcelain, gold or titanium. Shaped like a small tooth, the abutment serves as a bridge between the implant post and the crown.
- The crown is the final part of the assembly. It resembles your missing tooth in shape, color and function. It may be made of a porcelain shell fused to a metal alloy. The crown can also be made out of either gold, porcelain or a harder material, such as zirconia. The crown is either screwed on or cemented into place on the abutment. If screwed on, a composite restorative material fills the hole.
Are Single Tooth Implants Right for Me?
Not everyone is a good candidate for a single tooth implant. It is dental surgery and may require additional procedures. In general, you must satisfy these criteria:
- You must be missing a tooth.
- Your jawbone must be fully mature.
- Your dental tissues must be healthy.
- You must be healthy enough to recuperate fully.
- Your jaw must have enough bone to support the implant or you must be able to undergo a bone graft.
- You’ve had bad experiences wearing dentures.
- You’re willing to endure a multi-month process from the initial consultation until full recovery.
The Steps to Receive Your Implant
Since a single tooth implant often requires multiple dentist visits, you need a process to go from a missing tooth to a fully functional implant. Inform your dentist about any medications or nutritional supplements you’re taking. Discuss the anesthesia options available. Once you’re ready to move forward, the steps include:
- The implant specialist at Albany County Dental Associates first performs a comprehensive examination before beginning the process. The exam may include x-rays.
- If you need any restorative work done, from a cleaning to a cavity filling, your dentist completes these procedures before you can get an implant.
- Your dentist confirms that you have adequate bone to support an implant. If not, you have to have a bone graft, which is a separate surgery. Recovery time for a bone graft procedure can last from four to 12 months.
- Once your jaw is ready, your dentist drills a hole into your jawbone to insert the implant post. You normally don’t feel any pain, but will feel the pressure from this procedure.
- The post is a titanium screw that functions as the root for the artificial tooth. It takes about four or five months for the implant to fuse to your lower jawbone and as long as six or seven months to fuse to your upper jaw.
- Once the implant post is firmly rooted in your jaw, your dentist places the abutment on top of it, along with a temporary crown.
- After another four to six weeks, your dentist replaces the temporary crown with the permanent one that perfectly fits and matches the color of your other teeth.
Like every other surgery, receiving a single tooth implant can increase your risk for certain problems, including:
- Your implant channel can become infected.
- Your sinus cavities can be damaged if the implant is drilled too far into your upper jaw.
- The procedure can damage other parts of your mouth or even your nerves, which can cause tingling in your natural teeth, gums or lips.