Implants themselves are artificial tooth roots that are anchored into your jaw. What you place on top of your dental implants will have the biggest impact on your smile.
Single Tooth Dental Implants
When you’re only replacing one tooth at a time, a single dental implant is an excellent option. Individual implants prevent the need to reshape adjacent teeth for a fixed bridge and are easier to clean around. Like a real tooth, the implant stands independently of other teeth around it. You can floss and brush around it like you would any other tooth. On top of the implant, your dentist will place a customized porcelain crown so that it looks like you never had a missing tooth to begin with.
Full Mouth Implant Therapy
Finally, there’s the option to replace all your teeth at the same time. In this case, your dentist would use an implant-supported denture that clasps over as few as 4 to 6 implants. Implant dentures can be either removable or permanently fixed in place. The type that you choose will depend on your oral health and long-term goals.
Implants for Multiple Teeth
If you still have several healthy teeth but don’t want to wear a removable partial denture, then an implant bridge is the perfect option. Implant bridges look like traditional porcelain bridges, except they are anchored on top of dental implants instead of natural teeth.
Because implants are stronger than teeth, it’s possible to have longer bridges anchored on top of them. This means you can replace more teeth at once. It’s not uncommon to place three or four teeth at a time. Plus, your bridge is designed to resemble the appearance of your neighboring teeth.
Traditional vs. Mini
Most dentists prefer to use traditional implants when possible, as they are the most stable option available. However, some dentists also offer what is called “mini” implants. Mini implants are far smaller than conventional implants, so that they can be placed in areas of excessive bone loss. Unfortunately, they cannot bear the weight of normal biting forces. That being said, mini implants are quite useful when several are used to secure a removable denture from slipping out of place.
Titanium vs. Porcelain
Most implants are made of titanium. This biocompatible metal encourages new bone growth around the implant, securing it permanently into the jaw. It even helps to add additional support to neighboring teeth and your facial profile. More recently, porcelain implants are being developed to mimic the color of natural tooth roots. This is only of a concern when a portion of the implant is visible above the gum line, between your gums and fixed prosthesis.