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This type of dental implant surgery is the most common.  An implant is placed wherever you’re missing a tooth.  It’s most natural feeling type of tooth replacement that is available to you.  A properly placed implant will work just like your previous tooth; you’ll be able to chew and enjoy eating on it.  Using proper cosmetic techniques and good labs will also help the implant tooth look like the original tooth also.

Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of implants versus the common alternatives:

Advantages of Implants versus Traditional Bridges

  • There is no damage or preparation to the adjacent teeth.  A bridge requires crowns on the surrounding teeth of the empty spot.  This could setup up future replacements and each time more tooth structure must be removed.
  • They are almost always longer lasting then traditional bridges.  Implants are not indestructible but they definitely tend to stay in the bone once integrated.  The tooth on top of the implant may have to be replaced at some time but for many clients, the implant stays in the bone.  Bridges typically last 7-10 years and sometimes shorter if certain requirements can not be met.
  • Dental implants are usually easier to clean and maintain.  Bridges require special floss threaders to clean underneath them and usually collect more food underneath them than implants.  Tooth implants require maintenance too but regular flossing and brushing are usually enough to maintain them.
  • Implants will help maintain the bone around the implant.  The bone under the bridge can often shrink over time which leads to increased food getting stuck underneath it.

Advantages of Traditional Bridges over Implants

  • They can be made much faster than implants.  Implants can take several months to finish but a bridge can be finished in around three weeks.
  • Bridges replacing single teeth cost less than a dental implant.
  • Dental insurances seem to cover bridges more often than implants.

Advantages of Implants versus Removable Dentures

  • Implants require no preparation of nearby teeth.  Even removable dentures usually require some adjustment of nearby teeth although usually less than bridges.
  • You don’t remove dental implant teeth.  Removable partial dentures come off by definition.
  • Implant teeth tend to catch much less food than partial dentures.  Dentures have many ledges and hooks where food typically catches when eating.
  • Implants maintain the surrounding bone.  Dentures may experience the fastest deterioration of the bone underneath versus implants and bridges.
  • The vast majority of implant patients report far greater comfort in day to day functioning versus denture users.

Advantages of Removable Dentures versus Implants

  • Dentures cost less than implants and bridges.
  • Removable dentures can be done in a month or so.  Implants take several months to complete.


Steps for a Single Tooth Implant with Dr. Tony Kim

There are several steps that we go through for the implant process.  I understand that not all implant dentists may utilize the same steps or techniques but these steps are designed to minimize complications and maximize chances of success.

  1. The initial exam lets us know whether you’re a good candidate for implants or not.  You’ll get a series of digital xrays, get a tooth and gum exam, and then possibly a referral for a cone beam CT scan.  The scan will allow me to look at your mouth in 3D and virtually place an implant on the computer before actually placing in the client.
  2. Once it’s decided that a dental implant is the best option for the client, we’ll take an impression of your teeth so that I can make a surgical guide.  This surgical guide helps me place the implant in the best position for esthetics and function.  Some dentists choose to skip this step but I like to use one for all cases.
  3. Once the guide is done, the surgery can proceed.  On that day, we prefer to use operating room type surgical protocols to minimize the harmful bacteria in the operating area.  Again, some dentists choose to do implant surgeries with their regular setups but I like to minimize the chance of harmful bacteria entering you during the implants surgery.
  4. Once the implant is placed, the site may or may not have a temporary placed.  Sometimes if the tooth does not show than no temporary will be placed.  If it’s a cosmetic area then a temporary will be necessary to maintain the smile while waiting for implant healing.
  5. After a minimum of three months of healing, the final steps to make the final crown will begin.  This involves attaching an implant abutment to the implant itself and then placing a crown onto the abutment.
  6. We recommend a night guard to protect your investment.  Once of the weaknesses of an implant is the bite, many times people may clench or even grind their teeth at night which can damage the implant foundation.

This protocol is designed to have the best preparation for the implant and to protect the implant to help make it last as long as possible.