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If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and a crown can replace it. A dental implant provides several advantages over other tooth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth.
The other common treatment for the loss of a single tooth, a tooth-supported fixed bridge, requires that adjacent teeth be ground down to support the cemented bridge. Because a dental implant will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved. With a bridge, some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth begins to resorb (deteriorate).
Dental implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact. In the long term, a single implant can be more esthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge. Gums can recede around a bridge, leaving a visible defect when the metal base or collar of the bridge becomes exposed. Resorbed bone beneath the bridge can lead to an unattractive smile. And, the cement holding the bridge in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay the teeth that anchor the bridge.
The actual process of restoring a single missing tooth with an implant involves a straightforward surgical procedure of placing the implant and a restorative procedure of fabricating and placing the abutment and the crown. Quite often if the bone volume and quality permits, both steps can be done in a single visit.
These procedures are so simple that they are usually performed in the office with local anesthesia (Lidocaine). The first procedure involves creating a precision channel in the jawbone into which the implant is firmly threaded. If due to bone volume and quality the crown cannot be placed the same day, the implant then remains undisturbed for a period of two to four months. During this initial healing phase the surrounding bone heals tightly to the implant’s surface giving it firm support. This healing process is termed osseo-integration, which literally means bone connection.
The implant typically has a protective cover on it during this phase and the patient is only mildly aware of its presence. You can often wear your existing denture, a temporary crown or a bridge over the area while the healing takes place. Once the implant is firmly attached to the bone, the restorative process can begin. We will then select and place an abutment on the implant to which teeth can be attached. At this point, we will fabricate the appropriate crown and attach it to the implant and abutment.
We will discuss the specific sequencing of treatment in your case if you are a candidate or you would like to become a candidate. For those individuals who are very anxious or in situations where a lengthy procedure is anticipated, sedation is available and often encouraged.
Alex - single implant and crown in a single visit