Replacing Missing Teeth

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Dental implants may be used to replace just a single tooth, several teeth, or a full arch.

High success rates of approximately 98% have been reported over a ten-year period for single tooth implants and groups of implants supporting individual implant crowns or bridges. The images show replacement of a single tooth, and multiple implants used to replace individual teeth.

There are several advantages to this type of treatment:

  • An implant-retained crown has a similar appearance to a normal crown and appears to emerge through the gum naturally
  • Replacing a missing tooth with an implant avoids having to place crowns on adjacent healthy teeth to support a bridge
  • The presence of the implant will slow the change in shape of the bone and gum where teeth have been lost. Indeed, it is possible to improve the contour of the area by placing an implant.
  • It may be easier to keep an implant-retained crown or bridge clean than a tooth-supported bridge, which extends over several teeth. As a result, the adjacent teeth will lead a normal uncompromised life.

With time, and especially where there has been extensive infection, the amount of bone available in which to place an implant will diminish. Where necessary the bone and gum may be added to (“grafted”) in order to provide improved fixation for the implant, or to enhance the appearance.

Having placed an implant, the area is usually allowed to heal for a few weeks, depending on the quality of the bone around the implant. A crown or a bridge may then be fabricated, usually in two to three sessions. In certain critical situations, we are able to place implants “immediately” at the same time as extraction takes place. If implants are well-anchored, we may then go on to provide a resin crown or bridge at the same time.

Single Tooth

Replacing a single missing tooth can be a spectacularly successful procedure. Treatment is highly conservative as it is not necessary to prepare adjacent teeth to support bridgework, and the implant tooth can be looked after just like your own natural teeth. The implant tooth itself is usually made with the use of special computer-aided design and manufacturing techniques to produce beautiful teeth, made entirely out of a strong ceramic material.

A Single Implant with Ceramic Abutment and Crown
Several Teeth

Groups of missing teeth can be replaced with bridgework supported by implants. For example, two implants can support a bridge replacing four teeth, and more implants may be added if biting forces are heavy, or a larger bridge is required. Once again, treatment is highly conservative as it is not necessary to prepare teeth to support bridgework; the implant construction simply replaces the missing teeth without further compromising the remaining teeth.

3 implants and ceramic abutment connectors support a bridge replacing 4 teeth
Full Arch

Typically five-six implants can be used to support full arch fixed bridgework replacing all the teeth in one jaw. Where only limited bone is available we may just use four implants. Where plenty of bone is available more implants may be placed to support a series of smaller bridges or individual teeth in aesthetically challenging situations. A variety of techniques have been devised to make this treatment extremely straightforward and less invasive.
See also immediate teeth, zygomatic, all-on-4 for approaches to treatment to replace a full set of teeth.

4-6 implants are used to support a bridge replacing all the teeth
Full-arch Bridge based on just 4 implants