Dental Implant and Crown to Replace a Single Tooth
A single tooth implant is appropriate when a missing tooth can be replaced with an implant that resembles the root of a tooth. The implant "root" is further restored with an implant abutment post and a crown. If several teeth are missing in a row, they can be replaced with a series of single tooth implants or an implant supported bridge.
Single Dental Implant and Crown Procedure
We carefully plan each case with a thorough exam, images, and any medical consults that are needed.
Implant placement is usually completed with local anesthetic in less than an hour, and is much less traumatic than removing a tooth. We can often place implants with only a small opening in the gums, three or four very short passes with a series of drills, and finally insertion of the implant and a titanium healing cap. Some cases require reflection of the gums to visualize the bone and a couple of sutures. Immediate loading with a crown can reduce the success rate of an implant, so beware of claims for "teeth in a day". The implant is allowed to heal and integrate with the bone for three or four months, depending on the density of the bone.
Restoration of the implant is a very easy procedure, no anesthetic needed. We take an impression of the implant for the laboratory, just like we do for regular crowns on natural teeth. Our lab fabricates a custom milled abutment post using titanium, or tooth colored zirconia, and a crown to fit over the abutment post. We secure the abutment post to the implant, then cement the crown to the post.
Alternatives to a Single Dental Implant and Crown
A fixed bridge requires healthy anchor teeth on either side of the space where a tooth is missing. The anchor teeth are reduced enough to make room for crowns, and the lab fabricates a bridge with crowns on the anchor teeth and one or more "floater" teeth in between. The cost of a dental implant, post, and crown is often comparable to the cost of a bridge. The advantage of a fixed bridge is shorter treatment time, only two weeks from start to finish. The advantage of an implant is that we do not need to disturb healthy adjacent teeth to anchor the bridge. However, a bridge is advantageous if the adjacent anchor teeth need crowns anyway.
A removable partial denture is another alternative, but disadvantages include mobility of the denture, visible metal clasps, food catching under the denture, and stress on anchor teeth.
by Keith Collins, DMD