When it comes to losing a single tooth, many people tend to ignore it, especially if the tooth is toward the back of the mouth, not visible when you smile. After all, what’s the harm in missing only one tooth? The truth is, even a single missing tooth can cause a significant number of issues, affecting your oral health and your quality of life. At Edelweiss Dental Implant Center, we can replace a single missing tooth with a single tooth dental implant.
Traditional Tooth Replacement
In the past, a single missing tooth has been replaced using a bridge. A bridge consists of the replacement tooth set between two dental crowns. The teeth on either side of the empty space are ground down so that the crowns can fit in place over them. In essence, these teeth become the anchors that hold the bridge in place. While bridges are still in use today, they do have a few downsides. The biggest disadvantage is that the restoration does not stop bone loss. This means that your jaw will still weaken and change shape. This means that the bridge, while cemented in place, will need to be replaced every few years.
Effects of a Missing Tooth
It’s easy to brush off a single missing tooth, especially if you can’t see the empty space when you smile. However, even missing just one tooth can have several major impacts on your life:
- Trouble Eating
Your teeth are essential for biting and chewing your food. Even if you are only missing one tooth, the empty space can make it harder to thoroughly chew your food. Because chewing breaks down your food to make nutrients accessible, improper chewing can lead to malnutrition.
- Trouble Speaking
A single missing tooth can lead to a lisp or other speech issues.
- Tooth Decay
Food can become lodged in the empty space, and may be difficult to remove. Bacteria can build up, increasing your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
- Bone loss
Your teeth stimulate your jawbone, which tells your body the jaw needs nutrients. Even with one tooth gone, the stimulation message is weakened. As a result, your body sends fewer nutrients, which causes your jawbone to become weak over time. This can eventually lead to your healthy teeth shifting into the space and throwing off your bite.
Single Tooth Dental Implants
Single tooth implants are a type of dental implant that are used to replace a single missing tooth. After a local anesthetic, incisions are made in the empty space, and a hole is drilled into the bone. A single titanium rod is inserted, and the gums are stitched closed around it. Healing can take several weeks, during which time you are provided with a temporary crown. As you heal, your jawbone fuses with the rod, turning it into a stable root that will support your permanent crown. Once you have healed, the abutment is placed, and an impression is taken. The impression is used to create your custom crown, which is then screwed into place on the implant.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are the most comprehensive and permanent solution that we have for tooth replacement. Dental implants are usually made of a titanium post that we surgically insert into your jaw bone, which fuses to the bone through a process known as osseointegration. This is a healing process where the bone in your jaw grows around the dental implant and supports it in the same way it once supported your natural teeth. Dental implants can be used to support single tooth restoration, like crowns, or multiple tooth restorations like dental bridges. They can even be used to support full arch solutions like All on 4® and implant supported dentures.
Benefits of Single-Tooth Implants
Single tooth implants have several benefits:
- They look just like the rest of your natural teeth (the ceramic used to create your crown mimics both the color and light reflecting properties of enamel).
- There is no need to remove the enamel from your adjacent healthy teeth.
- The implant itself mimics the functions of your natural tooth root, including stimulating the jawbone. In doing so, this helps to prevent bone loss, helping to maintain the strength and shape of the jaw.