One of the things that give us confidence is having a perfect smile where your mouth has all the teeth well fitted and with excellent dental hygiene. When a person is missing a tooth for whatever reason, they often may feel insecure and avoid smiling, especially if the missing tooth is at the front. Fortunately, you don’t have to feel like that anymore, with the possibility of replacing a single tooth is available. You can have a permanently fitted dental implant for a single tooth that will blend well with your existing teeth and give you back that radiant and confident smile you once had. Talk to the Northridge Dental Implant Center to understand the whole procedure and how it will work for you.

Understanding Single Tooth Replacement

As the name suggests, it is the replacement of a single tooth that has been removed due to various reasons. When you are missing a single tooth, you don’t have to spend the rest of your life thinking you need to remove and replace all the teeth in the particular jaw. Fortunately, with the advancement of technology, you can have your damaged or broken tooth replaced without interfering with the rest of your teeth.

The market today is filled with various options for replacing a tooth, but opting for a dental implant may be your best choice. Choosing a dental implant will give you a permanent and stress-free solution to your missing tooth. The dental implant is customized for your mouth and made in a way that it fits in well with all your other teeth. There is no damage to your gums or other teeth when you use this method to replace your lost tooth.

A surgical procedure is involved in replacing the tooth. Your dentist will make an opening on the jawbone where the tooth is to be fitted. Once the implant gets attached to your jaw bone, it serves as the root for your new tooth. Next, a crown is molded that resembles your existing teeth, and it is fitted on the implant. The crown fills the gap left in your gum by the single tooth, creating a uniformity of your teeth.

For the dental implant process to work, you must have a healthy and sufficient jaw bone. This bone must be sufficiently strong to support and hold the implant in place. In case you do not have adequate bone, a procedure known as bone grafting or augmentation may be used to add bone to your jaw. Aside from having sufficient bone, your existing teeth and the tissues around need to be in excellent health.

How Dental Implant Works to Replace a Single Tooth

To begin with, you must understand the parts a dental implant tooth consists of. These parts are:

  • The implant – is typically made from titanium, and it is fitted in either the lower or upper jawbone where the tooth is missing.

  • The abutment – this is made from various materials such as gold, titanium, or porcelain. Usually, it is fitted on the implant using a screw. It is the part that connects the crown to the implant. It takes the shape of a healthy tooth that is shaped to receive the crown.

  • The restoration – this involves the portion that resembles a tooth known as the crown. It can be made by fusing metal alloy and porcelain or from pure porcelain or metal. The crown is them cemented or screwed on the abutment. When the screwing method is used to fit the crown to the abutment, the holes that contain the screws are sealed with restorative materials. These consist of a composite, which is a material that is tooth-colored.

The Process of Implanting the Tooth

Many factors determine the time taken to complete the implant process and crown. If your dentist opts for the old method to fit the implant, the least time it will take to complete the implant is five months for the bottom jaw. If the replacement is being done on the upper side, the period is longer with a month. This period involves the surgeries needed and the fitting of the crown permanently. If there is a need to build your bone first, the procedure can take a year to complete.

Another technique may work faster. This involves fixing the implants together with the healing caps. If your dentist opts to use mini implants, the crown and dentures will be fitted in one visit.

Using the traditional way, however, it will require two procedures that will be performed three or six months apart. In the initial process, an incision is done on the gum where the dentist will fit the implant. Next, the dentist will drill a hole to the bone, and place the implant in the hole. The cut is closed by stitching it together. The patient is then let to go home and heal.

As the period for healing comes to an end, another procedure is carried out. This procedure involves doing another incision that exposes the fitted implant. A healing cap or collar is fitted using a screw on the implant and helps the gun and tissues surrounding the area to heal. The collar or healing cap gets removed after some weeks. Next, your dentist will screw the abutment on the implant that will be used as a support for the crown.

As earlier stated, however, the advancement of technology has made it possible for a patient to have the complete procedure done with one visit. When you visit your dentist, you will be able to discuss the method that best fits you and proceed with it.

The First Consultation

Before you decide on the procedure, you will be required to visit a dentist that is experienced and trained in the restoration and placement of implants.

A comprehensive evaluation will be carried out on you by your dentist. The assessment is designed to review your dental and medical history. The dentist may also take an X-ray of your mouth to enable them to see if there are any underlying issues such as diseases of insufficient bone. Impressions of your gums and teeth are also taken that will allow the making of models.

Sometimes, your dentist may opt to have a scan taken instead, known as computed tomography, also referred to as a CT scan. This scan is more detailed in showing the amount of bone you have. The scan also indicates where sensitive structures are, such as your sinuses and nerves. This is to avoid damaging them with the surgical procedure.

In case the X-ray reveals your jaw bone is not sufficient to hold the implant, he or she will be able to discuss with you the various options available to build your bone is discussed earlier. Some of the options may be bone distraction or grafting. Grafting involves getting a bone elsewhere and fitting it to your jaw. The bone for grafting may be from your chin, hip, or mouth.

There is also the option of getting a processed cow, pig, or cadaver bone instead of your bone to be fitted on the jaw. Synthetic material can also be used instead, like calcium phosphate or hydroxyapatite. Bone distraction as a procedure to increase bone can also be done. This is a procedure performed at the location where you need more bone. The method makes the body generate additional bone by pulling apart slowly the current bone by use of screws and pins.

If you are found to require any of the procedures to increase your bone, you will need to wait for the jawbone to grow and be ready to place the implant. This may take between four and twelve months.

Fixing of Implant – The First surgery

When your bone is sufficient to support an implant, schedule the first procedure. This procedure will involve fixing your single tooth implant to your jaw. Your dentist that is trained in implantology carries out the process. The procedure is done by your dentist using a surgical guide that is plastic. This guide is fitted over your other teeth and is extended to where your tooth is missing. This is to indicate where the implant will be fitted.

The standard type of implant is the root-form that is designed to work as the tooth’s root. Space, where the tooth occupied, is where the implant is fitted.

After this initial surgery, your dentist will wait for between four and five months for an implant that was fitted on the lower jawbone. If it were on the upper jawbone, before another procedure is performed, you would wait for six to seven months. During this period, healing of the tissues and the infusion of the implants and bone takes place.

Placement of the Temporary Crown or Healing Collar – Second Surgery

After the implant is fused to the bone, a second surgery is scheduled. During this visit, the dentist will check to confirm if the implant fitted well and is ready for surgery. In order to do this, an X-ray is taken. This second surgery is less complicated than the initial one. If it is established, the implant is ready; another incision is done to that exposes the implant heads or tops.

A healing cap or collar is then fitted on the exposed implant. This is designed to guide the tissues around and that of the gum to heal properly. The healing cap is usually a round metallic piece made to hold and protect the implant's head by keeping the gum from it. This is kept intact for about ten to fourteen days. Incase to cover the missing tooth, you had a denture; it can be fixed to use during this period.

Once the gum and surrounding tissues heal, the dentist removes the healing collar. Next, the fitting of the abutment is done on the implant. This is by screwing it tightly on the crown using specialized tools to avoid it from coming out. Once it is well fitted, the dentist will fit a temporary crown on it. In some instances, the temporary crown and abutment can be placed immediately after uncovering the implants during the second surgery. This will mean that you do not need to have a healing collar fitted.

For the next four to six weeks, the temporary cap will remain in place. The gums around and tissues will heal and will resemble your ordinary teeth gum. The material used to make the temporary cap is softer than that used in permanent crowns. More delicate materials are designed to protect and cushion the implant when chewing and give the jawbone a chance to become stronger.

As you wear your temporary cap or crown, your permanent one will be molded. It takes between two and three weeks to mold a durable cap or crown. The impression or the model made from your gums and teeth is what is used in creating your crown. Once it is ready, it will be placed on the abutment either by cementing or screwing it in.

Cement fitted crowns look better than screw fitted ones because they do not have visible holes. On the other hand, crowns fitted with screws make it convenient to remove them in case there is an issue with it or the surrounding tissues.

How to Care for your Tooth Implant

Just as you take care of your natural teeth, you will care for your implant the same way. Floss and brush your teeth daily and ensure you maintain excellent dental hygiene. If you experience any problems before your scheduled visit of six months after, you can schedule an appointment with your dentist.

On your first visit after getting your tooth replaced, an X-ray will be taken to enable you, and your dentist views the implant, the crown, and the abutment. The X-ray will show if there are problems or complications in the way the implant, crown, and abutment fit together. If any issues arise, they will be fixed. If there are no issues as in most cases, you will be on your way to enjoy a full mouth of teeth.

Probable Complications in Tooth Replacement

Usually, a surgical procedure has its risks. Aside from these, the dental implant procedure to replace your tooth can also have its challenges. An implant can fail in some cases if you develop an infection, although this is rare. If the bite is not correctly adjusted, it can also lead to the failure of the implant. Additionally, the grinding and clenching of teeth often puts the implant under pressure, which may result in bone loss. If one loses their bone, the implant will likely fall and fail.

Sometimes, lower jaw tooth implants can also be risky. When drilling a hole in the bone to place the implant, a nerve running through the bone can get injured. This may result in a tingling or numbness feeling that is unpleasant. In case this occurs, it affects the chin and the lower lip and sometimes the tongue. This numbness may be for a short while as the nerves heal, or it may be permanent.

Fortunately, nerves are not commonly injured. Before performing the surgical procedures, the dentist will ensure he or she has a CT scan or an X-ray of your mouth. These are done so that where they can identify where the nerves are passing and avoid injuring them.

If the tooth implant is being fitted on the upper jawbone, there is a danger of drilling to the sinuses. This is because they are located just above your teeth in the upper jaw. Your nasal cavity can also get infected, which will complicate the procedure. Just like when replacing a lower jaw tooth, an X-ray or CT scan is done on the upper part of the mouth. This gives details of where the sinuses are placed and the nerves to avoid injuring them during the procedure.

Expectations from a Single Tooth Replacement Implant

When the process of fitting an implant is completed successfully, the result is that your replaced tooth will function and resemble your existing teeth. People will not easily know you have an implant, especially when the crown matches in color with your other teeth.

Sometimes, however, your implant may not have an exact resemblance to your ordinary teeth. Your implant sometimes may not be fitted straight because it is mounted at a certain angle. This happens when the bone is not sufficient to carry the implant or to have the implant placed well. A crown can also be made extensive to fit all the space between your missing tooth and other teeth. If your tooth implant is cared for properly, it can last up to 25 years without complications.

Why Choose Dental Implant for Single Tooth Replacement?

There are many reasons why a patient should opt to have an implant to replace their missing tooth. When one has a missing tooth, the bone around it starts to shrink with time. When your jawbone is unhealthy, the jawline begins to recede, changing your facial structure. Getting a dental implant to replace your missing tooth will help prevent your jawbone from deteriorating, and you maintain your facial shape.

A dental implant is also a right choice compared to general bridgework. When you are replacing a single tooth, the use of implants eliminates the grinding down of your natural teeth to fit the new one. Your naturally existing teeth will not be compromised during the procedure and will remain intact in their place.

Dental implants to replace your tooth also offer security. This means, your tooth remains in place without slipping, the new tooth will not irritate your gums, neither will you experience pain because no nerves are exposed. A dental implant for tooth replacement gives excellent comfort, are reliable and lasting.

Comparing Dental Implants for Tooth Replacement and Fixed Bridges or Dentures

There are many advantages of opting to replace your missing tooth with a dental implant as compared to other methods. Some of these are:

  • Aesthetics – the feeling of dental implants is like that of your natural teeth. The integration of dental implants to your bone structure prevents loss of bones and the recession of your gums that is common indentures or bridgework. When you replace your missing tooth with a dental implant, it will be hard for anyone to notice because it fits beautifully and naturally to your mouth.

  • Saving teeth – the quality of your adjacent natural teeth are not compromised when you use a dental implant to replace your lost tooth. With an implant, there is no need to alter the adjacent natural teeth to get the implant-supported. Your natural teeth are neither touched, nor is their health compromised.

  • Self-confidence – when you have a missing tooth, you may lose confidence, especially with your smile. Compared to dentures, dental implants allow you to eat just as you would with your natural teeth comfortably and confidently. Because implants are securely fitted on the jawbone, you will be free from any embarrassing moments where dentures may slip, wobble, or make annoying clicks. Dental implants also allow you to live in freedom where you don't have to worry about misplacing your denture or using pastes and glues to fix them.

  • Reliability – dental implants offer excellent reliability because the outcome is predictable. In most instances, they are believed to be the best option in replacing a lost tooth.

Who Qualifies for Dental Implants

Any person that is missing a tooth or several teeth is an excellent candidate for dental implants. One can lose a tooth due to a disease, an injury, or decay. Whatever the cause, as long as you have excellent dental health, you can get your tooth replaced with a dental implant.

Some people worry that age can be a limiting factor to getting a dental implant. However, your health is usually the determining factor. Your dentist will evaluate your dental health as well as your medical history to determine if it is safe to get the implant fixed. If you are in good health, then you are an excellent candidate for an implant.

Pain and Discomfort During the Procedure

The procedure is almost pain-free. The doctor will administer anesthesia or sedate you to prevent you from any discomfort during the process. When going home, the dentist will prescribe the necessary drugs to avoid any pain or discomfort from the procedure.

Find a Dentist Near Me

A beautiful smile can light up your day. Unfortunately, with a missing tooth, it may be impossible to smile freely, and sometimes it may be uncomfortable to eat. The process of getting your missing tooth replaced may sound simple, but it requires an experienced dentist to do it. At Northridge Dental Implant Center, you will find dentists with extensive training and experience in dental implants as well as other dental procedures. If you are contemplating to replace a missing tooth, reach us at 818-925-9181, and let us guide you through the process.