When are Dental Implants needed?

Dental implants are an excellent way to replace a missing tooth (or more specifically a missing tooth root). An implant is a small titanium post that anchors a crown or a denture (called an overdenture if implants are involved). The process involves placing the implant into the jaw bone (either upper or lower), waiting several months for the bone to grow to the implant, then taking a mold of the implant to make a crown (that connects to the implant) or a bar (that connects to a denture to support the denture).

Dental implants are an excellent way to replace missing teeth. It is important to replace missing teeth for many reasons:

  • Teeth adjacent to the missing tooth will tip (rotate) into the missing space. Given enough time (many years) the teeth adjacent to the missing space could rotate completely sideways (falling into the space where the missing tooth is).
  • The teeth opposing the missing tooth will grow toward the missing tooth space (a process called super eruption).
  • The combination of rotation and super eruption could lead to a collapse of the bite.
  • The collapse of the bite could lead to sagging of mouth and an older apperance as well as jaw joint problems (TMD,TMJ).
  • Missing teeth decreases your ability to chew and can affect speaking.
  • Missing teeth can negatively affect your smile.

The 3 options to replace missing teeth are:

Dental Implants Versus Bridges

  • Implants do not rely on the natural teeth next to the missing tooth for support, where bridges do rely on adjacent teeth for support.
  • Tooth reduction is required on adjacent teeth to place a bridge where an implant doesn’t usually require modification of adjacent teeth.
  • Implants can often be flossed like natural teeth; bridges require modified flossing techniques to clean under.
  • Implants usually require at least 4 months to complete (usually longer); bridges often can be completed in two weeks.
  • During the 4-6 month healing phase of implants, some other type of tooth replacement may be necessary.
  • If the teeth next to the missing tooth need crowns, a bridge will take care of this; bridges actually serve as crowns.
  • Bridges tend to be less costly than implants, especially if the teeth adjacent to the missing space need crowns or multiple teeth are being replaced.
  • Bridges replacing one tooth have excellent long-term success if properly cared for (thorough tooth-brushing, flossing and regular cleanings and exams) but as more teeth are replaced with a bridge, the long-term prognosis tends to decrease.
  • Implants also have an excellent long-term prognosis if properly cared for (thorough tooth-brushing, flossing and regular cleanings and exams).

Note: smoking significantly reduces long term success in implants and usually indicates doing a bridge rather than implants.

At Sherwood Dental Care we use state of the art techniques and materials. We only choose the highest quality implant laboratories and implant components (we always match implant components with the manufacturer of the implant).