I’m missing a front tooth! What next?
In the aesthetically driven world that we live in, missing a front tooth would be devastating. Rightly or wrongly, we are often judged by the way we look. This is why missing a front tooth is
embarrassing and socially awkward. Ask yourself the question – if you lost your front tooth, would you leave the house?
The traditional approach to replace a single missing tooth
So what happens if you lose a front tooth in an accident or a sports injury, or are told that it needs to be extracted?
It’s common knowledge now that dental implants are the best option to replace a missing tooth, but also often presumed that this procedure takes several months to complete. For example, the traditional approach involves removing the tooth and then waiting 6-12 weeks before the implant fixture is placed, and a further 3-4 months before the final crown is fitted. This tried and tested method works very well, however it does mean that you do not get your fixed implant tooth for at least 5-6 months.
Obviously, nobody wants a gap in their smile for that length of time, so dental implant surgeons can provide either a temporary denture or a temporary bridge. However, for many of our patients, the thought of wearing a temporary denture for up to 6 months is almost as devastating as losing the tooth in the first place! The problem with temporary bridges is that they are prone to pinging off.
Missing a front tooth – a new technique to replace it within 90 minutes
Because of these issues, a procedure has been developed, known technically as “immediate loading”. This is where the tooth is removed, an implant fixture is placed into the socket and a provisional dental crown is fitted, all in the same visit. That’s everything in around 90 minutes. A permanent crown then replaces the provisional crown after the jaw bone has healed, which is around 3 months.
This technique means that the patient leaves the dental clinic with a fixed front tooth that looks natural and not a temporary denture or bridge. In fact, assuming the patient has not been sedated, they can return to work the same day and none of their colleagues would be any the wiser!
This “immediate placement” is done under normal local anaesthetic and is completely painless. Recovery is also straightforward with minimal post-operative discomfort and bruising. Also, as there is no need to cut the gum, there is virtually no bleeding or need for any stitches. Although the procedure takes a little over an hour to do, the majority of this time is taken up making the provisional crown, which is mostly done outside of the mouth. The actual implant placement only takes 5 minutes!
The benefits of same day implants
A replacement tooth in a day may all sound too good to be true, however there are benefits to this technique and plenty of solid research to support it:
- It delivers a fantastic aesthetic result as the shape of the gum is much easier to preserve.
- Research suggests that the bone formed around the implant may be denser and of a better quality than an implant that is not immediately loaded.
The pictures below illustrate a recent case at The Raglan Suite. The first picture shows the broken root, which had to be removed. The other picture is of the provisional crown fitted to the implant at the same appointment. This will be replaced with the permanent porcelain crown after around 3 months healing.
It should be emphasised that not every patient is suitable for this technique. If the tooth that needs to be removed is very infected or the position of the gum is wrong before the tooth is removed, then the traditional staged implant approach may be needed.
Patients also have to be quite considerate of their new tooth for a few weeks after the initial surgery, to give the implant a chance to fuse to the bone. However, this is often a natural response by patients who prefer to avoid having to wear a temporary denture or bridge.
If you feel you may benefit from this procedure, please ask your dentist to refer you. Alternatively, you can contact The Raglan Suite direct to arrange a complimentary consultation with our Implant Dentist, Dr. Tim Doswell.