A common concern for those considering a dental implant is if they will be left with a missing tooth during the implant process. This is especially concerning to those who are missing a front tooth. Fortunately, there are a few different options for during this time.

First, what is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a tooth replacement option that looks and acts like a natural tooth. It consists of a titanium metal post secured in the jawbone with a dental crown to replace the missing tooth. The dental crown is made to match your remaining natural teeth perfectly.

The Process

Assessment- A thorough assessment must be done to evaluate the space and the jawbone to see if a dental implant is suitable. In some cases, bone grafting may be needed before an implant can be placed.

The implant surgery- The dental implant is surgically placed into your jawbone.

Healing time- This could take up to six months for the bone to heal and the implant to become secure in the jaw bone.

Placing the abutment- After the healing time, the dental implant is exposed, and a healing cap is put on (in some cases, the healing cap is placed at the same time as the implant surgery). Once the gums heal, the abutment can be placed. The abutment is the part of the implant that attaches the titanium post to the dental crown.

Placement of the dental crown- The last step is attaching the dental crown to the abutment.

Why is the healing time so long?

It is important to allow enough time for the bone to grow and heal around the dental implant. It will need to be secure in the jawbone to withstand the forces of chewing and have long-term success. The time it takes to complete a dental implant will vary from patient to patient.

Temporary tooth-replacement options

Flipper denture- This is also called an acrylic removable partial denture. It looks like a retainer but has an artificial tooth attached that will fill the space.

Essix retainer- A clear plastic retainer that fits over the top of your remaining natural teeth and has an artificial tooth to fill in space.

Temporary bridge- This is usually made of acrylic. It involves using the adjacent teeth to bridge the space with an artificial tooth in between.

Immediate temporary crown- In some cases, an immediate temporary or permanent crown can be placed on the day of or shortly after the placement of the implant. Not everyone is a candidate for this option.

Each option comes with different pros and cons as well as costs. If the missing tooth is in the back of the mouth, you may decide that a temporary replacement isn’t necessary. If moving from a denture to a dental implant, your existing denture can usually be worn during the healing process. You will be able to discuss your options with your dental professional to come up with a treatment plan that is best for you. Contact us to schedule a visit today.