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How Does a Single Tooth Implant Work?



For individuals who are missing a single tooth, an implant and a crown can be used to replace it.  A single tooth implant can be used to replace both the natural tooth and its root.

A single tooth implant is often the recommended option for those who have experienced a traumatic injury, those who have lost a posterior tooth due to advanced decay, or those who have had an unsuccessful root canal.

Individuals who are considered likely candidates for single tooth implants will be referred to a dental specialist (i.e. prosthodontist, periodontist, or oral surgeon). A comprehensive assessment will be conducted and the patient’s dental as well as medical history will also be looked into.

The dental specialist will be able to determine if the patient has any systemic disease that might contra-indicate the dental implants. If no systemic medical issues are in the way, an X-ray will be taken and an impression of the teeth and gum tissues will be created. This is also done so an accurate model of the patient’s mouth is created.


Single Tooth Implants Versus Bridge

Single tooth dental implants are known to provide several benefits over other replacement options like a bridge. Aside from looking and functioning just like a natural tooth, single tooth dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth without compromising the health of the surrounding teeth.

A tooth-supported fixed bridge is also another prevalent treatment option for those who have lost a single tooth. However, a tooth-supported fixed bridge will require that the adjacent teeth be grinded down in order to provide support for the cemented bridge.

Since a dental implant will be used to replace the tooth’s root, the bone is better preserved. In addition, since dental implants will integrate with the jawbone, the bone is also kept healthy and intact. With a dental bridge on the other hand, there is a tendency for some of the bone surrounding the tooth to resorb or deteriorate.


The Dental Implant Procedure in a Nutshell

The dental implant which looks like a cylinder or screw is placed in the patient’s jaw. The bone and the implant will be allowed to bond together in the next 2 to 6 months. This is also done so an anchor for the artificial tooth is formed. For the time being, a temporary tooth replacement is worn over the site of the implant.

In most cases, a second step is needed to uncover the implant and attach the extension. A temporary healing cap will complete the foundation where the new tooth will be placed. The gums will also be given at least a couple of weeks to heal following this procedure.

There are however one-stage implant systems that won’t require the second step. Similar systems use implants that already has an attached extension piece. The periodontist will be able to identify and recommend which system will work best for individual patients.

Lastly, the replacement tooth known as a crown will be created and attached to a small metal post also known as an abutment. Dental implants look and feel just like natural teeth that patients may even forget they ever lost a tooth. That being said, it would only be a matter of time until patients experience restored confidence in their ability to speak, chew, and smile.

Dr. Gerald Tan