FILLING A GAP WITH A SINGLE TOOTH DENTAL IMPLANT
Categories: Dental implant
Tagged with: dental implant, Single tooth dental implant
The most common case we do at The Raglan Suite is fill a gap with a single tooth dental implant. There are a number of reasons why a tooth may need to be removed, such as extensive decay or infection, trauma, a root fracture, a failed post crown or failed root filling. As dentists, we always try to save natural teeth. However, if it is clear that the tooth can not be saved, a single tooth dental implant offers a long term, stable and predictable solution.
The location of the gap – why is it so important?
If a tooth has to be removed from the front of the mouth, it is clearly visible and can affect social interaction and confidence. There are few patients in this instance who would want to accept a gap as a long term solution. A single tooth dental implant at the front of the mouth also offers additional benefits to bite capabilities, whereby you can confidently bite into an apple.
What if you lose a molar tooth at the back of the mouth?
Even if aesthetics are not a concern, it’s still important to have a missing back tooth replaced. Losing a molar in the short term is unlikely to be an issue, however we need to consider the affect losing a molar can have in the long term.
Wisdom teeth (the third molars) are virtually never replaced with implants as there is just no justification for it. However, the first and second molars (in most patients the “back teeth”) play an important role, not just in chewing up food, but also to take the load off the front teeth when biting together.
It’s a simple question of balance. If a person loses a single molar, when they chew it will increase the load on the teeth either side of the space. If these teeth are healthy and intact (i.e. not filled or crowned) then this may not be an immediate concern, but if they are, the increased workload on teeth which have already weaker and restored may cause a problem. Similarly, the teeth on the opposite side of the mouth will also be doing more work. replacing the gap with a single tooth dental implant balances the workload, which in the long term will help support and sustain the other teeth in the mouth.
What other risks are presented by a missing back tooth?
The other main risk of losing a molar is that the tooth it used to bite on in the opposing jaw can overgrow (“over-erupt”). This creates two issues. Firstly, if at a later date the patient decides to have an implant, the overgrown tooth may have to be cut down to create the space. Secondly, the overgrown tooth can cause a problem with bite, which can lead to a condition called TMD – Tempo-Mandibular Disorder. This disorder can lead to tooth grinding, jaw discomfort and even headaches, neck pain and shoulder stiffness. Many patients have TMD without knowing it and mistakenly put these symptoms down to stress and work.
As well as the opposing tooth over-erupting, the teeth either side of the gap can drift into the space. This may lead to a partial closure of the space, which would create a problem for placing an implant in the future. Commonly, the teeth that drift into the space have poor contact with the teeth either side, which can lead to gaps opening up and becoming food traps that attract decay. By filling the gap with a single tooth dental implant these issues can be avoided.
Of course, it is also possible that none of these issues occur when a back tooth is lost, but the fact is, it is impossible to predict. If these issues do occur, the patient will be looking at either having their teeth cut down or orthodontics (braces) to put the issues right before dental implant treatment can commence.
What are the options to a single tooth dental implant?
The main options to a single tooth dental implant are either removable dentures or tooth supported bridges. Most patients would not choose to have a denture to replace a single tooth as they are bulky, removable and act as a plaque trap. The big issue with a tooth supported bridge is that the teeth either side of the space need to be cut down to support it. This is very damaging to these teeth. In fact, 20% of teeth used to support bridges go on to need a root filling, which further weakens them. The huge benefit of dental implants is that they are completely independent of the adjacent teeth, which eliminates this risk.
There are many elements to consider when planning a single tooth dental implant. At The Raglan Suite we assess all of these factors when a patient has their complimentary assessment. However, just as it is important to understand the risks of the procedure itself, it is also just as important to understand the risks of having nothing done at all.
Dr. Tim Doswell works exclusively in the field of implant dentistryat The Raglan Suite and is one of only a few implant surgeons in the north of England who has been awarded an Advanced Diploma in Implant Dentistry by the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London. Call 01423 565432 to book your free consultation with Dr. Doswell or contact us through our online enquiry form.