Dental Implant Prosthetics

Replacing missing teeth with dental implants

Usually, when you lose a tooth, it is best for your oral health to have it replaced. Missing teeth can affect your “bite” as well as your ability to speak and chew. Their loss can increase the burden on your remaining teeth and can cause muscle pain in your jaws and headaches. And of course, losing a tooth can affect your appearance.

Tooth replacement may involve replacing a single tooth, multiple teeth, or even a full jaw of teeth.  Implants can be used in a variety of ways to achieve any of these goals.

Single Tooth Replacement

customPhoto

The replacement of a single missing tooth with a dental implant and implant crown is similar to placing a crown on a natural tooth.  Once the implant has healed within your jaw, an impression is made to record its position. This allows the laboratory to fabricate the two necessary components for an implant crown; the implant abutment and the cemented crown.  The abutment is screwed into the actual implant and replicates a natural tooth that is prepared for a traditional crown.  The implant crown is then cemented onto the abutment.  The single implant crown replicates a single tooth, allowing it to look, function, and feel like you own tooth.


Replacing Multiple Teeth

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Depending upon the number of teeth you are missing, often times multiple implants can be connected together to make a dental implant bridge.  Similar to a bridge cemented to natural teeth, a implant bridge may use two or three implants to replace three, four, or five missing teeth.  Like a single tooth, the bridge utilizes abutments onto which the bridge is cemented.  Implant bridges can provide an aesthetic solution that will look and function like your natural teeth.


Full Arch Solutions

There are a variety of implant prosthetics that can replace the teeth in an entire jaw.  They vary significantly in cost and also in materials, function, and patient comfort.

The following information reviews replacing missing teeth with some of the options with full arch dental implant prosthetics.

Implant Overdenture

One option is to have two implants placed in your lower jaw and a denture made that snaps onto these implants. This option allows your lower denture to be more stable while chewing than without implants. However, there will still be movement of your lower denture, and sore spots will occur if any food particles, especially seeds, are caught under it. As with all removable replacement teeth, you still will need periodic appointments for denture adjustment.

A mouth with the lower jaw missing all of its teeth
1. Before
A mouth with the lower jaw with two implants and no bottom teeth
2. Implants Placed
A mouth with a Ball Attachment Denture latched onto the lower jaw by two implants
3. Denture Attached

Bar Attachment Denture

Another option involves placing four to six implants, depending on your jaw size or shape, into your lower jaw. After healing is complete, the implants are connected with a custom-made support bar. Your denture will be made with special internal retention attachments that attach onto the support bar, enabling the denture to snap firmly into place. This is called an “overdenture.” The advantage of this option is that it is much more stable than the first option and allows very little denture movement. Your denture is still removable for easy cleaning and maintenance.

A mouth that has all teeth missing on its lower jaw
1. Before
A mouth without teeth and four implants connected by a metal bar on its lower jaw
2. Implants Placed
A mouth with a Bar Attachment Denture secured onto the lower jaw by four implants
3. Denture Attached

Screw Retained Denture

A third option involves placing five or more implants in your jaw and attaching a permanent denture. Your denture is held in place by screws or clasps that secure it to the support posts or bar. It doesn’t touch the gum tissue, which allows you to clean under the denture without removing it. This denture will replace all your missing lower teeth and will not be removed except at maintenance visits. Although cleaning under your denture without removing it is more time consuming and requires more dexterity, many patients who want a permanent denture prefer this option.

A mouth that has all lower jaw teeth missing
1. Before
A mouth that has six implants and no teeth on its lower jaw
2. Implants Placed
A mouth with a Screw Attachment Denture affixed onto the lower jaw by six implants
3. Denture Attached

What If I’m Missing All Of My Upper Teeth?

A similar range of treatment options is also available for your upper jaw. However, because the bone is not as hard as that in the lower jaw, people often need more implants to support their new replacement teeth. Depending upon the number of implants to be placed, it may be possible to eliminate the need for covering the roof of your mouth with a complete denture. This option allows you to fully taste your food and gives you a better sense of its temperature. Your denture will feel more natural. This design can either be permanently fixed or removable.

An Implant Retained Upper Denture with its implants attached

Implant Retained Upper Denture

Depending upon the number of implants to be placed, it may be possible to eliminate the need for covering the roof of your mouth with a complete denture. This option allows you to fully taste your food and gives you a better sense of its temperature. Your denture will feel more natural. This design can either be permanently fixed or removable.

Implant benefits

  • Improved confidence
  • Stability during eating
  • Bone and gum preservation
  • Improved dental hygiene
  • Superior esthetics
  • Nutritional benefits