Every dental student graduates knowing how to restore an area of the mouth that has either lost a tooth, or never formed one in that particular area. Early in my practice, there were basically two choices, under the general heading of ‘Removable’ or ‘Fixed’ Prosthodontics. Specifically, a partial denture, or a cemented bridge. In both, you must build upon teeth that are still in place for support.
These options are still available presently. These choices were the standard of care in days gone by, and frankly, they continue to have important restorative application(s) today.
For many years now, dental implants have risen to the top of the standard of care in modern restorative dentistry. With implant dentistry, you lose one tooth, you gain one tooth. Implant dentistry is not dependent upon other teeth for them to work. They are placed in good supportive bone, and unlike partials and bridges of the past, they have an upper 90’s percentile chance of being there when they play the soft music!
Nothing quick about the timeline of having the tooth removed and the placing the implant supported crown onto the implant, to final restoration. It’s all about nature’s healing abilities. Usually bone grafting materials are placed post-extraction, and this takes 4-6 months to heal. This provides a wonderful bone platform for the implant. Two to three more months are needed after the implant is placed for healing. After this time, your dentist will take an impression(can do that digitally now!)to send to the dental lab, and 3 weeks or so later, the tooth can be fitted and secured to the implant with screw retention (my preference), or cemented.
I love them! I’m so happy that I live and work in a time where this option can be offered to patients to give them great function and beautiful esthetics.