Dental implants are an excellent way to replace a missing tooth (or more specifically a missing tooth root). An implant is a small titanium post that anchors a crown or a denture (called an overdenture if implants are involved). The process involves placing the implant into the jaw bone (either upper or lower), waiting several months for the bone to grow to the implant, then taking a mold of the implant to make a crown (that connects to the implant) or a bar (that connects to a denture to support the denture).
It is important to replace missing teeth for many reasons:
- Teeth adjacent to the missing tooth will tip (rotate) into the missing space. Given enough time (many years) the teeth adjacent to the missing space could rotate completely sideways (falling into the space where the missing tooth is).
- The teeth opposing the missing tooth will grow toward the missing tooth space (a process called super eruption).
- The combination of rotation and super eruption could lead to a collapse of the bite.
- The collapse of the bite could lead to sagging of mouth and an older appearance as well as jaw joint problems (TMD, TMJ).
- Missing teeth decreases your ability to chew and can affect speaking.
- Missing teeth can negatively affect your smile.