To create a beautiful smile
Before dental implants, missing teeth were replaced using other teeth or tissues (edentulous ridges) for support.
The replacement prosthetic teeth may have been removable. You may have visions of an elderly’s removable false teeth in a glass on the bedside table. These removable dentures could be complete, to replace all of the teeth in an arch, or partial to replace one or more for a partially edentulous arch.
If the goal was to replace one, or a few teeth in a dental arch, a “fixed” partial denture could have been designed providing sound teeth both in front of and behind the space. If the missing tooth was the last (most posterior) tooth, often a cemented-type partial denture “bridge” could not be planned.
The most common missing tooth needing replacement is the first molar. A “fixed” partial denture would involve cutting down and around at least the two teeth immediately adjacent to the site of the missing tooth to be replaced. This would be to design two crowns on either side of a “pontic” suspended crown. Thus “a three-tooth solution to a one-tooth problem”. Often times the teeth to be cut down never even had as much as a small filling. The cut teeth could later need repair or replacement because of decay or breakage or even root canal treatment. If one of these supporting teeth needed extraction, then the missing teeth replacement would need to be redesigned.
Since the advent of dental implants, missing teeth don’t need other teeth or tissues for support.
Thus, to replace, for example one tooth, the adjacent teeth would not be cut down for an implant placement. Other advantages would include the ease of cleaning because teeth wouldn’t be joined together. The implant helps maintain the height of the soft tissue and bone. If the tooth on the implant needs repair or replacing it can be removed very easily, usually without any local anaesthesia (freezing).
To replace multiple missing teeth or even all teeth, multiple implants would be used for support. Remember that since the implants help maintain tissue height in a manner similar to healthy teeth, the overdenture should last longer. Patients report that compared to a non-implant supported denture, it is easier to eat because of the absence of floating. The prosthesis is solidly positioned. The large acrylic flanges and palatal coverage aren’t necessary. Thus food can be more enjoyed, and speaking is not hindered by tongue constraints. Facial aesthetics can be maintained.
The very high success rate makes implant-supported prosthetic teeth an option that should be considered for tooth replacement.