If you’re missing a single tooth, you have two potential replacement options: a traditional dental bridge or a dental implant and crown combination. Dental implants have become the preferred solution for both patients and dentists because they replace the tooth both above and below the gum line, making them the best option to replicate the function, appearance, and strength of a natural tooth.
Here’s what you can expect from the process of getting a single-tooth dental implant.
Dental Implant and Crown Combination: The Basics
People often use the term “dental implants” as a catch-all that refers to the entire dental implant restoration, but when it comes to single-tooth dental implants, there are three separate components:
- The dental implant is the metal post that is surgically implanted into your jaw to replace the root of your missing tooth. Implants are most commonly made from biocompatible titanium, the same material used in joint replacement surgery.
- The abutment is a small piece that connects your dental implant to your restoration.
- The crown is the prosthesis that replaces the visible portion of your missing tooth. Like a traditional crown, there are a number of options for materials, although most patients choose materials that have a realistic appearance, like porcelain.
Single-Tooth Dental Implant Process
Getting dental implants starts with evaluating the health of your jaw. Specifically, we want to ensure that your jawbone has the density needed to support a dental implant. If it doesn’t ridge preservation or bone grafting may be needed to prepare your jaw for surgery.
If you are getting a single tooth replaced with a dental implant, we will numb the area where we’re working with local anesthetic injections, so you won’t feel any discomfort while we work, although you are likely to experience tenderness and swelling once the anesthetic wears off in the hours after your surgery. If you’re anxious about the procedure, we can offer sedation to help you relax.
After placing the implant post, we wait for osseointegration to occur. This is the process in which the dental implants and jawbone fuse together; it’s what gives your restoration a stable base of support. Osseointegration can take months to complete, but it’s important not to rush this step.
Next, the abutment is attached to your dental implant and we begin the process of fabricating your crown. While waiting for your permanent restoration, you will be given a temporary restoration to close the gap in your smile. Once your final crown is attached, the dental implant process is complete.
Dental Implant and Crown Care
One of the primary benefits of dental implant restorations is that care and maintenance is simple—you’ll brush and floss just as you normally would and visit the dentist every six months for routine exams and dental cleanings. Most people forget that they have a dental implant after a while!
Your dental implant post is a permanent replacement for the root of your missing tooth, but depending on your age and the material you choose for your restoration, your crown may need to be replaced at some point.