Single or Full-Arch Implants: Which Are Right for Your Missing Teeth?
Choosing the Right Dental Implant Solution
Dental implants are a wonderful form of restorative dentistry for replacing one or more missing teeth. They look beautiful and function just like natural teeth, not to mention the implant post itself lasts for life. Dental implant surgery is also highly successful for ideal candidates, and patients agree that the surgery and healing process are well worth the final results.
If you have a few missing teeth, you might be wondering what exactly your options are. Do you need to replace each tooth with single dental implants? What if you have a successive row of teeth missing?
Let’s explore the differences between single dental implants and full-arch dental implants.
What is a dental implant, and how does it work?
Dental implants are a permanent prosthetic tooth option for replacing missing teeth. They involve oral surgery to place a special implant post directly into the jawbone, which functions just like the root of a natural tooth. An abutment is placed on top of this post as a foundation for the third and final piece, a beautiful dental crown.
After about four to six months of healing, your jawbone will have completely fused to the implant post, resulting in a restoration that allows for all the same functions you expect from a natural tooth.
Why are dental implants recommended by so many dentists?
Dentists and prosthodontists recommend dental implants because they not only replace your missing teeth but also help protect your future oral health and prevent the jawbone shrinkage associated with tooth loss.
Tooth loss impacts a person’s self-confidence and eating ability and has long-term repercussions for their oral health. While traditional dentures and dental bridges can visually replace missing teeth, they don’t solve the problems of a shifting bite or jawbone loss. Only dental implants are able to do this.
What’s the difference between single and full-arch dental implants?
Single dental implants are the conventional method of treatment. They replace each missing tooth with a single implant post. Not surprisingly, single dental implants are most often used for people who only have one or two missing teeth.
Full-arch dental implants minimize the number of dental implants needed to replace an entire arch of missing teeth. This treatment option combines single dental implant “anchors” with a prosthetic that looks like natural teeth. In the case of a partial or full arch, this might either be an implant-supported denture or implant-supported bridge.
Why not replace multiple missing teeth with single dental implants?
If you have two or three missing teeth in different spots in your smile, it makes sense to have single dental implants. However, if you have multiple missing teeth in a row, single dental implants are often not the most efficient solution.
While they would be effective, single implants would be more expensive, and you would likely have a longer healing process. This is why prosthodontists usually recommend an implant-supported bridge or implant-supported denture instead. In the case of an entire arch of missing teeth, your dentist can use only four to eight dental implants rather than, say, a full 14 single implants.
How can my dentist replace a full arch of teeth with a dental implant?
Your dentist will carefully evaluate your smile and bone density. In some cases, a bone graft may be necessary to provide enough stability for successful implant healing. Your dentist will strategically decide where to place a series of dental implants, often four to six, though as many as eight or more may be needed for the best results possible.
During this time a lab skilled in artistically designed prosthetics will create your denture or bridge. After implant placement, your prosthetic bridge or denture will be placed to finish your new smile.
Which dental implant treatment option is right for my smile?
Generally speaking, single dental implants are best for replacing individual missing teeth that have healthy neighboring teeth. Even if you have a few missing teeth throughout your smile, it may be best to save your natural, healthy teeth and simply place individual implants.
However, if you have widespread decay or damage or rows of missing teeth, a semi- or full-arch option is likely the better choice. For example, if you have a couple of successive teeth missing, an implant-supported bridge is ideal. For an entire arch, implant-supported dentures will better solve your problem.
Find your ideal dental implant choice by booking a consultation.
The world of dental implants can feel a little overwhelming at first, so it’s important to choose an experienced dentist to guide you through the entire process. You can trust Dr. Staley for gentle, skillful care using the best dental implant technology and techniques.
To learn more about dental implants and discover which option is right for your smile, schedule your consultation today by calling our Boise, Idaho office or filling out our online form.