Replacing a Single Tooth with a Dental Implant

If you have lost a single tooth — either because of periodontal disease, a failed root canal, trauma or another reason — there are two replacement options: an implant-supported crown and a tooth-supported bridge. Dr. Peter Lotowski of Wisconsin Dental Solutions believes that an implant-supported crown is a more stable, reliable choice and best long-term solution.

Implant-Supported Crowns

A single tooth replacement option, an implant-supported crown, is composed of a titanium post that anchors an artificial tooth. The implant post (which resembles a small screw) is placed in the jawbone. During the healing process called osseointegration, which typically takes several months, the implant integrates with the jawbone. During this time, the doctor can place a temporary restoration so you will never have to be toothless. After healing, the permanent crown attaches to the top of the post through a connector piece called an abutment. The crown is designed to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding teeth for an even and uniform smile; it will match the shape, size and color of the adjacent teeth.

Alternative: A Tooth-Supported Bridge

A dental bridge is composed of three connected crowns: two of the crowns fit over the teeth on either side of the gap, and they anchor an artificial tooth in the middle filling the gap. In order to place a tooth-supported bridge, a small amount of tooth structure is removed from the teeth on either side of the gap to accommodate the supporting crowns.

Cosmetically, dental bridges are a sufficient solution; however, they lack the longevity and stability of an implant. Given that the artificial tooth has no connection to the jawbone and lacks bone stimulation, complications associated with bone deterioration can occur. Alternatively, the dental implant being placed in the jawbone stimulates and helps maintain bone levels without compromising adjacent teeth. A tooth-supported bridge also compromises the two teeth on either side on the gap by removing healthy tooth structure, thereby increasing the risk of gum line decay.

Dental Implants vs. Dental Bridges

When replacing a single missing tooth, dental implants offer many advantages over dental bridges.

For example, dental implants:

  • Are a longer-lasting solution than bridges
  • Look, feel and function similarly to a natural tooth
  • Do not rely on the adjacent teeth for support (which eventually weakens them and causes other complications)
  • Keep the underlying jawbone stimulated, preventing the deterioration of the jawbone
  • Do not require any special maintenance other than routine care
  • Do not require any reshaping of the adjacent teeth

Contact Our Madison Dental Implants Practice

If you'd like to make an appointment to meet with one of our dental implant dentists, please contact our office at (608) 834-6321. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you find a solution for your needs!

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