Missing Teeth: How Many Dental Implants Do I Need?
You may have heard from our Clear Lake dentist that dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth. But what exactly are implants and how many do you need to restore your smile?
What Is A Dental Implant?
An implant is a cylinder-shaped metal post that is hollow with special threaded surfaces on both the outside and inside. The post is implanted into your bone where it serves as an anchor to attach a variety of different dental restorations.
Dental Implant Integration Process
Once it’s in the bone, there’s an integration period in which the bone will grow around the outer threads of the implant, hugging it tightly and giving the implant the ability to withstand the weight and chewing forces of whatever type of restoration will be attached to it.
Anchoring anything to the implant prematurely will compromise the surrounding bone and cause it to fail.
While waiting on the implant to completely integrate, we can make a temporary restoration to wear so that you don’t have to go without teeth for extended periods of time.
Dental Implant Restorations
An implant can be used to replace a single tooth, just a few teeth, or an entire arch of teeth. Here are some examples of implant restorations:
Single Tooth Implants
Years ago, the standard to replace a missing tooth was to fill in the space by bridging it with a connection of crowns. This process requires that you incorporate other natural teeth, which isn’t ideal when they are healthy, virgin teeth.
In today’s world, an implant can be placed in the same location as the tooth’s root. In fact, with single-rooted teeth, we can remove the bad tooth and place the implant immediately, in the same space.
For multi-rooted teeth, an additional step is involved, in which we take the tooth out and place a bone graft in the sockets where the roots were. Then the grafted tissue will need to bond with your natural bone and form a solid foundation for an implant. This integration process typically takes at least eight to twelve weeks, and then it’s safe to place the post.
Once the implant is inserted, you’ll go through another period of a few weeks for the dental implant integration process before we can attach your permanent restoration ー which in this case will be a crown.
The dental crown has an opening that allows a special abutment to fit inside of it. The other end of the abutment is torqued into the opening at the top of your implant. Once it’s installed, the three-section restoration becomes a permanent replacement for what otherwise looks and feels like an anatomical tooth.
An implant bridge is similar to a traditional bridge, but instead of using natural teeth as the anchors, we use dental implants. So, if you’re missing three or four teeth in one area, we can bridge the gaps with one single connected chain of teeth. The process is similar to having a single tooth implant placed, except on a wider scale with more implants.
If you’re missing three teeth, then we’ll place two implants. If the space is longer than three teeth wide then our dentist will strategize and determine what the right number of implants is that should be placed. Implants are extremely strong, so they can support the weight of multiple teeth without having to sacrifice biting or chewing pressure.
The crowns on the ends of the bridge will anchor to the implants, while the others are suspended over the gum tissue.
Dental implant bridges look and feel very natural and will last for many, many years. They prevent the need for wearing a partial denture, giving you a permanent restoration that stays there all day, every day.
Replacing an entire arch of missing teeth is often performed with a full-arch bridge or hybrid denture type of appliance.
Incorporating implants into your full arch tooth replacement treatment will prevent you from having to deal with appliances that feel bulky, are loose, and have to be removed often.
Typically to replace an entire arch, we can use a minimum of four implants.
For full arch restorations, we have the choice of one of two appliances: a snap-on denture that clips onto your dental implants, or a streamlined, thin denture that is permanently attached onto your implants.
Dental Implants in Clear Lake, TX
To find out which implant tooth replacement options are best for you, call Rosas Family Dentistry of Clear Lake, TX.