Single Tooth Implants

Single tooth implant options by Legato Dental Centre
When you lose a single tooth, you might not think that it is all that big of a deal. This may be especially true if the missing tooth is out of sight when you smile. After all, if it cannot be seen, what does it matter? The truth, however, is that even losing just one tooth can affect every aspect of your life. Replacing this tooth is essential for giving you your life back. At Legato Dental Centre, we can provide you with single tooth replacement with a single tooth implant.

What Causes the Loss of a Tooth?

You can lose teeth for a variety of different reasons. One of the leading causes of tooth loss is periodontal, or gum, disease. When you have gum disease, plaque and bacteria irritate your gums. This causes inflammation. Swollen gums begin to pull away from the surfaces of your teeth, forming pockets. Bacteria fall into these pockets and begin attacking the periodontal ligaments and your jawbone. These supporting structures grow weak, and your tooth may eventually fall out.

There are other reasons you may lose a tooth as well. These include:
•  Facial trauma, including trauma sustained as a result of a car accident, a sports injury, or a fall.
•  Biting down on something, either food or an object, that is too hard. This can cause serious damage that requires extraction.
•  Severe tooth decay. If the tooth is too decayed, a filling or crown may not be possible, and the tooth needs to be extracted.
•  Bruxism. Grinding and clenching can cause severe pressure on the periodontal ligaments and your jawbone, wearing them away and causing your teeth to become unstable.

What are the Effects of Losing a Single Tooth?

Losing a single tooth can have a significant impact on just about every aspect of your life. If the tooth is near the front of your mouth, it can quite clearly affect the quality of your smile. However, even if the tooth cannot be seen, it can still cause several serious issues. Effects of tooth loss include:
•  Trouble chewing. If you cannot chew your food properly, your body has a more difficult time absorbing the nutrients later in the digestive process. This can then affect your overall nutrition.
•  Speech issues. With the loss of a tooth, you may develop a lisp or other complications with speech.
•  An increased risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Food can become trapped in the empty space. At the same time, the area may be more difficult to clean thoroughly.
•  An increased risk for tooth damage. Your bite pressures become uneven. The teeth adjacent to the empty space may have excessive force placed upon them, increasing their risk of chipping or cracking.
•  Misalignment. Your adjacent teeth begin to shift into the empty space, altering the alignment of your teeth. This not only affects your smile but can increase the risk for issues such as bruxism and TMJ disorder.

Traditional Replacement for a Single Tooth

Traditionally, a single missing tooth has been placed using what is called a bridge. It is still a common restoration used today. There are a few different bridges, with a fixed bridge being the most common. A fixed bridge, which is typically made from porcelain, consists of a replacement, or pontic, a tooth that fills the empty space left behind by your missing tooth. The restoration also has two dental crowns, one on each side of the pontic tooth. These crowns are used to anchor your bridge into place on your adjacent healthy teeth, also called abutment teeth. Anchored on your teeth, your bridge is held securely in place.

While bridges provide many benefits, they also have a significant disadvantage as well. A bridge may be able to restore the functions of your missing tooth and the quality of your smile; it cannot stop the bone loss that occurs after tooth loss. As a result, your jawbone loses mass and weakens. Your jawbone also begins to change shape. As a result, your bridge will not always fit properly. It will need to be changed periodically to accommodate changes in your mouth and to keep your bite natural.

What is a Single Tooth Dental Implant?

A single tooth implant is an alternative to a traditional bridge, providing you with a modern solution for replacing a single tooth. This treatment uses a dental implant to replace your tooth, its functions, your smile, and your quality of life.

There are three basic components to a single tooth implant.
•  The implant. The implant is the titanium post that is surgically placed into your jawbone. Your bone fuses to this post, stabilizing it within your jaw. The post essentially becomes a replacement root that becomes a part of your jawbone.
•  The abutment. The abutment is a small piece that is placed on the top of your implant. It works to provide stability for your replacement tooth.
•  The crown. The crown, made from ceramic, is your replacement tooth. It fills in the empty space left behind by your missing tooth, and looks, feels, and functions just like your original tooth.

The Origins of Dental Implants

Dental implants have a rather long history, even though they are often thought to be a modern invention. Implants date back thousands of years. They have been found in the jaws of individuals all around the world, including Egypt, Rome, and South America. Ancient implants have been discovered to be placed after death. They are believed to have been used as a way to prepare the bodies for the afterlife.
The implants we use today are the result of modern discovery. This discovery was completely by accident. In the 1950s, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Bråenmark, was researching how bones heal and regenerate.

At one point during this research, he placed a titanium cylinder in the leg of a rabbit. He later tried to remove it and found that the femur had begun to fuse to the cylinder. What Bråenmark had discovered was osseointegration, the process of living bone tissue fusing to metal. This incredible discovery led Bråenmark to conduct further research. During this time, he used both animal and human subjects. In 1965, he placed the first set of successful dental implants.

Even though Bråenmark was successful, his research and development continued. Even today, research is still being conducted. Developments are continuously being made that help to improve the stability and success of this treatment.

Placing Your Single Tooth Implant

Placing a single tooth implant requires a surgical procedure. This procedure is performed under local anesthetic and sedation. The local anesthetic ensures that you will not feel any discomfort while sedation keeps you calm and relaxed. Surgery begins with an incision in your gums, which provides access to your jawbone. A hole is then drilled into the bone, and your implant is placed inside. Your gums are sutured closed, and a temporary tooth is set into place.

After your procedure, you will be provided with post-surgical care instructions. These instructions will help to ensure that your recovery goes smoothly and that you do not experience any complications. Your instructions will help you to deal with common post-surgical issues, such as pain and swelling, what to eat, and how to take care of your surgical site. Your instructions will also include what to do if you experience any complications, including when to call the office.

The healing process for a single tooth implant can take several weeks to complete. During this time, your bone fuses gradually with the post, stabilizing it within your jaw. Once you have fully healed, we begin the process of placing your final dental restoration. Your temporary crown is removed, and the abutment is placed. We then take an impression of your mouth. The impression is sent off to our dental lab, where technicians use it to design your custom crown. When the crown is complete, you return for one final visit. During this appointment, we check your final crown for a natural appearance and a comfortable bite. If everything looks good and we do not need to make any adjustments, the crown is secured into place on the implant post with a small screw.

What if My Bone is Too Weak?

While implants have a very high success rate, the process of osseointegration depends upon the condition of your jawbone. If you have lost too much bone mass after losing your tooth, the bone may not be able to properly fuse to the post, which can lead to implant failure.

Just because your jawbone is weak, this does not mean that an implant is impossible. We can increase the success of your single tooth implant with a bone graft. This is an additional surgical procedure that involves transplanting bone material into your jaw to restore its strength. Once you have healed from this procedure, your implant placement can begin.

Does My Implant Require Special Care?

Your implant can, and should, be taken care of just like the rest of your natural teeth. This means that you should continue to brush and floss it normally. Taking care of your implant, and the rest of your teeth is essential for maintaining a healthy mouth and the integrity of your implant. Without proper oral hygiene, plaque and bacteria can accumulate, including on your implant. This can increase your risk for cavities in your natural teeth. A buildup of these substances can also increase your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease does not just affect your healthy teeth. It can also increase your risk for implant failure. If you notice any symptoms of periodontal disease, it is imperative for your oral health, and for your implant, that you seek treatment immediately.

What are the Benefits of a Single Tooth Implant?

A single tooth implant provides many significant benefits. These benefits include:
•  Restoring normal functions to your mouth. With your missing tooth replaced, you can bite and chew normally. Because you can thoroughly chew your food, this allows you to completely break it down, making it easier for your body to digest essential nutrients. In improving your digestion, your overall health is also improved. At the same time, replacing your tooth also helps to perfectly restore your speech.
•  Improved oral health. Filling in the empty space prevents food and other debris from getting trapped. Your mouth is easier to keep clean. As a result, your risk for cavities and periodontal disease decreases.
•  Reduced risk for tooth damage. Replacing your missing tooth restores an even bite. With pressures evenly distributed, your risk for tooth damage decreases.
•  Adjacent teeth do not need to be altered. With a bridge, a portion of the tooth enamel from each adjacent tooth needs to be removed to place the crowns properly. We do not need to do anything to your adjacent teeth when providing treatment with an implant.
•  Preserving the health and shape of your jawbone. With a dental implant, the post replaces the root of the missing tooth. This post restores the stimulation to your jawbone, which then restores the message to your body that essential nutrients are required. Because of this, the implant helps to put a stop to the bone loss in your jaw and prevents new bone loss from occurring. Preserving the health and shape of your jawbone prevents your adjacent teeth from shifting out of alignment, preventing the issues that come with this. Additionally, because your jawbone does not change shape, there is no need to worry about replacing your restoration. The crown may need to be replaced if it wears down or breaks, but your implant remains in your jaw.

With a single tooth implant, we can replace an individual tooth, restoring the functions of that tooth and the quality of your life. We are also able to help protect the quality of your smile as well as the health of your jawbone. For more information, and to find out if a single tooth implant is right for you, call Legato Dental Centre at (250) 860-5253 to schedule your consultation today.

Legato Dental Centre

203, 1890 Cooper Road
Kelowna, BC V1Y 8B7, Canada

(250) 860-5253

Office Hours

Monday – Thursday: 8am – 5pm
Friday:11am – 3pm
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