Dental implants are a great tooth replacement option. Not only do they look the most natural, have the most natural function, and last the longest, they’re also the best option for preserving the rest of your natural teeth.
But despite our best efforts, it’s still possible for you to lose a tooth next to your dental implant. Fortunately, we’ve got several options to replace that second missing tooth.
How Dental Implants Protect Your Natural Teeth
Tooth replacement options used in the past could be damaging to your natural teeth. Partial dentures were often designed with metal hooks and clasps that go around your natural teeth. These clasps can cause erosion of your tooth enamel. And even if the clasps are made of soft materials, the dentures can cause the accumulation of plaque against your teeth, leading to increased decay.
Dental bridges are designed to take advantage of the support of natural teeth, but this unfortunately means that some of your natural tooth material has to be removed. This weakens your natural teeth and can make them more prone to failure.
Plus neither of these options help support the force of biting. Both mean that your remaining teeth have to take the full force of biting and chewing, which can damage them.
But dental implants are different. They support themselves, with no reliance on neighboring teeth. This means that there’s no damage or wear to your other teeth. And because dental implants support themselves, the rest of your natural teeth won’t experience any excess force.
Why You Might Lose a Tooth Next to a Dental Implant
Your dental implant isn’t going to increase the risk of tooth loss in a neighboring tooth, but there are many reasons why you might lose a tooth next to an implant.
It might be lost for the same reason why you lost the first tooth. Gum disease, for example, that affected both teeth. We’ll typically want to wait until we get gum disease treated before placing your dental implant, but it can come back and affect the vulnerable tooth.
Or perhaps the original gum disease left the tooth vulnerable to trauma because of lost bone.
Decay could also cause a tooth to be lost. Maybe we hoped to restore the tooth with a root canal treatment that either didn’t work, or worked but didn’t last as long as the dental implant. Or perhaps receding gums left the tooth root vulnerable to decay.
Treatment Options for the Lost Tooth
But once the neighboring tooth is lost, how can we respond? The first step is to make sure we understand what caused the loss and then treat that problem to slow or stop the loss of teeth. We may recommend some different treatments ranging from simple changes in oral hygiene to a more comprehensive restoration plan.
Then we’ll consider replacement options for this second tooth. We might add a second dental implant. This is a good option, but maybe there’s not enough room for an implant in this space, and, anyway, we might not want a second implant placed so close to the first if we think you might need to replace the full arch of teeth at some point in the near future.
We can use a cantilevered bridge that is supported by either the dental implant or a natural tooth. This is not usually a preferred option because it can put excess stress on either the implant or the tooth.
We may also try linking the dental implant and a natural tooth with a bridge. This isn’t usually a good idea, but it is sometimes our best option. Designing the bridge with a breakaway feature can protect against damage caused by uneven response to force.
Attractive, Long-Lasting Results
Our goal is always to provide you with the best-looking and most durable restoration in every situation. The only way to really talk about this in detail is with a consultation. That way we can look at the situation in your mouth and decide which is the best for you.