Dental implants are diverse in their ability to replace missing teeth. A dental implant is an anchor placed into the jawbone that provides support for dental purposes. The vast majority of them are used to replace missing teeth, which is what the bulk of this article covers. Orthodontists also use implants as anchorage for moving teeth.
Implants to Replace Missing Teeth
Implants have the highest long-term success rate of any tooth replacement option. The anchorage into the jawbone provides stability and support for great oral health and normal function. Implants, nowadays, are typically endosteal in nature, meaning they anchor into the bone itself.
Single Tooth Replacement (including Mini Implants)
Replacing a single missing tooth with a dental implant is far superior to the alternative treatment options of dental bridges or removable partial dentures. The “new” tooth emerges from the gums providing the best and most natural cosmetic appearance. The attachment to jawbone gives it the highest level of function for chewing force. It does not damage neighboring teeth or place any additional burden on them as the alternatives do.
Dental Implant Bridges
Dental implants can also function to support the replacement of multiple teeth connected together via a bridge. Traditional dental bridges use natural teeth as anchors, and these neighboring teeth suffer not only the damage of the necessary dental preparation, but also the increased burden of bearing the chewing force of the missing tooth. With dental implants, we can place that burden on implants instead of natural teeth.
A dental implant bridge uses two bridges at the outer extents of the space of three or more missing teeth. Then the dentist’s lab technician creates a prosthetic that attaches to the two dental implants. This protects the remaining teeth in the mouth and replaces support for the chewing of those missing teeth without relying on adjacent teeth.
Many people wear dentures to replace a full set of missing teeth and find them uncomfortable and/or embarrassing. Denture patients suffer from looseness and sore spots frequently. We can use dental implants to provide a firm attachment to a denture base. When the denture locks onto a dental implant attachment, it no longer moves around, at risk for falling out or causing frictional ulcers. A secure connection between the implants and a denture not only provides increased comfort; it allows denture patients to eat, smile, laugh and speak with confidence.
Like a “normal” set of dentures, implant-supported dentures must be removed and cleaned daily.
All-on-Four Implant Prosthetics
All-on-four, or corresponding hybrid implant prosthetics, replaces a full set of missing teeth using four dental implants and a custom-made set of prosthetic teeth. Your dentist attaches the prosthetic to the four implants using small screws. This provides a relatively permanent option. We say “relatively” because the dentist does need to remove the prosthetic yearly to clean the implants underneath and ensure great gum and bone health.
Implants to Help Move Teeth Orthodontically
Implants make great anchors! That is why orthodontists use them when they need to reposition a particularly hard-to-move tooth. By placing small implants into various areas of the bone with a small ball or hook shape emerging from the gums, your orthodontist can use elastics (rubber bands) to pull the tooth in a specific direction.
Most people are aware that orthodontists use rubber bands to connect teeth and pull them together. The problem is that teeth move, so using a rubber band between two teeth will move both of them. In contrast, dental implants do not move. This allows the orthodontist to apply specific force to a single tooth and move it without affecting the position of other teeth.
More Questions about Dental Implants?
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today and schedule a visit with our implant experts. We can answer any questions you have about dental implants and help you make an informed decision about your oral health.