When you are missing a single tooth or multiple teeth, it is important that you consider methods of replacing that tooth. This means more than just getting dentures or dental bridges, however. When you lose a tooth, there is the potential for bone loss and recession in the gap left by the missing tooth. In addition, your remaining teeth may gradually shift. For this reason, mosts dentists offer dental implants.
Dental implants can secure a single replacement tooth, dental bridges, or even a full set of dentures securely in place, functioning just as a natural tooth root would. Below is some basic information on the options for implant dentistry.
Mini Dental Implants
If you are missing teeth in one area or in the entire upper and/ or lower jaw and have sufficient jaw bone density and healthy gums, one great option to consider is mini dental implants. Whereas traditional dental implants require several months to heal and attach to the surrounding bone (oseointegration) before they can be used to support a denture or crowns or bridges, mini dental implants can be completed in a single visit. Minis can be used in areas of very narrow bone where traditional root form implants will not fit. Minis, many times, can be placed without surgery (a big plus for older patients that may not be able to tolerate a dental surgery!)
The mini dental implants are otherwise quite similar to traditional dental implants. They also involve placement into the jawbone and gum tissue, which holds the dental implants in place securely as if they were natural tooth roots. They are fully functioning and ready for use the same day as the visit to the dentist. In a number of cases, our implant dentists in East Lost Angeles have used mini dental implants as a more convenient alternative to traditional dental implants. However, usually minis are used to secure a lower removable partial denture or complete denture.
Single Tooth Dental Implants
If you are missing a single tooth, our implant dentists would recommend considering a dental implant rather than a fixed bridge. For single tooth replacements, the dental implant is placed, surgically, into the bone left by the missing tooth. Over a period of roughly three to six months, the dental implant will go through a process of osseointegration (attachment to the surrounding bone). Once this has been completed, the implant is essentially another part of your mouth, and extremely secure. Think of it as a titanium root, which will preserve the surrounding bone and secure a dental appliance (crown,bridge, denture). Unlike a natural tooth, titanium will not decay!
Multi-Tooth Dental Implants
If you are missing multiple teeth, dental bridges (either fixed or removable) may be a suitable treatment, though we do think a better option is to consider placing dental implants to hold the dental bridge in place. With dental implants supporting a dental bridge, the dental bridge is held much more securely and it is less likely to slip or fall out as a removable dental bridge can. The implants will absorb much of the stress that would be placed on the surrounding natural teeth and help preserve the remaining teeth much longer. In the case of traditional fixed bridges, a big disadvantage is the need to grind down (put the teeth in a pencil sharpener) the teeth on either side of the space for retaining crowns, with the false teeth suspended between the retaining crowns. This can weaken those teeth, can cause future nerve death and the need for subsequent root canals, and or crown loosening with redecay. Rather than a single dental implant, two or more will be placed to best anchor the dental bridge.
Full Arch Dental Implants
In some cases (such as advanced age or severe tooth decay or severe gum disease), you may be missing all of your upper or lower teeth. Dentures are a workable solution for this, but even with good denture creams, you may notice that your full set of dentures can slip out of place, leading to awkward social situations and embarrassment. For these sorts of cases when a person is missing an entire arch of teeth, our East Los Angeles implant dentists would recommend dental implants to support a full set of dentures.
There are usually two options for this situation. In one scenario, multiple dental implants are placed in order to hold multiple replacement teeth or fixed partials in place. In the other scenario, a full overdenture is created and is anchored in place using two or more dental implants joined with or without a securing crossbar. Our dentists will determine which option is best suited to meet your needs and give you all available options.
Bone Grafting and Soft Tissue Augmentation
In some cases, a person may not be a good candidate for dental implants because of poor bone density, inadequate bone width or bone height. While dental implants may not seem like a good decision for these patients, there are options that may make this sort of patient a candidate for dental implants. In order to build up missing bone, bone grafts may be used, and in cases in which insufficient gum tissue is available, soft tissue grafts can be used to build up the gumline. Our dentists can discuss these options with you further at our East Los Angeles cosmetic and implant dentistry office.