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If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and a crown can replace it. A dental implant replaces both the lost natural tooth and its root.

Traditional replacement of a single tooth using a dental implant is often completed over multiple visits:

  • Consultation and planning, including initial exam, imaging of your teeth, questions about your dental and medical history, and discussion of your treatment options.
  • Placement of the dental implant, a substitute for the missing natural tooth root, either with or without a built-in abutment (a connector placed on, or built into, the top of the implant) that will attach to the replacement tooth. A temporary tooth can be placed while the dental implant integrates with your natural bone to form a strong foundation for your replacement tooth. Most people return to work the next day.
  • Placement of the abutment, if one wasn’t placed during the prior visit.
  • Placement of a custom-made crown, or replacement tooth.

What are the advantages of a single-tooth implant over a bridge?

A dental implant provides several advantages over other tooth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth. The other common treatment for the loss of a single tooth, a tooth-supported fixed bridge, requires that adjacent teeth be ground down to support the cemented bridge.

Because a dental implant will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved. With a bridge, some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth begins to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact.

In the long term, a single implant can be more esthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge. Gums can recede around a bridge, leaving a visible defect when the metal base or collar of the bridge becomes exposed. Resorbed bone beneath the bridge can lead to an unattractive smile. And, the cement holding the bridge in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay the teeth that anchor the bridge.