If you lose a single tooth, then your dentist may suggest one of several options available to you. One such option is a single-tooth dental implant. This is a procedure that replicates the entire tooth structure but, unlike conventional dentures, doesn't rely on the prosthetic tooth being attached to its neighbours. Instead, dental implants are embedded in the jawbone, providing a secure anchor point for the implant dentures that attach to them. This approach will not only fill the gap in your smile but will also provide you with a long-lasting solution. What's more, denture implants are suitable for the loss of even a single tooth. What's involved?
To begin with, you will have a consultation with your dentist to evaluate your suitability for denture implants. Your overall oral health and bone density will be taken into consideration. Typically, a review of your dental history and a comprehensive oral examination, including the use of X-rays or 3D images, will be conducted. Note that, if your jawbone is not suitable, then a bone graft may be recommended before the implant procedure is conducted. Alternatively, it may be established that you're unsuited to this type of implant.
Once you have been deemed to be a suitable candidate, the next stage involves surgery. Under anaesthetics, a titanium implant will be placed into the jawbone beneath the gum where your tooth is missing. After the implant has been inserted into the bone, the gum will be stitched so that it can heal. Depending on the complexity of your case, this sort of surgery is likely to take anywhere from one to two hours.
A healing period called osseointegration follows the surgery. This is the case with all denture implants whether just one or several have been fitted. Essentially, what this involves is the jawbone growing around the implant until it has been firmly integrated. This process cannot be rushed and it can take anything from several weeks to a few months, depending on how fast your body heals. Your dentist should advise you to maintain excellent oral hygiene at this time to help prevent an infection from occurring.
When denture implants are securely fused to the bone, the next step of attaching the abutment can follow. The abutment is the prosthetic tooth that will connect to the implant itself. A second surgery is needed to expose the implant but this typically involves just a small incision in the gum. The surgeon then attaches the abutment to the implant and the soft gum tissue is left to heal around it.