Dental implants have transformed the way we replace teeth in the dental field. Other prostheses like dental bridges and dentures can’t compare with the implant’s ability to preserve jawbone density, provide a stable base for the tooth so that it never moves, and the natural look and feel of these artificial teeth.
However, when it comes to selecting dental implants, there are different types. To find out the difference between single-tooth and full-arch implants, read on in this blog from Brad Wisowaty, DDS.
A single-tooth implant is the implantation of a biocompatible titanium post into the jawbone. Over 3 to 6 months, osseointegration occurs, causing the jawbone and implant to integrate, forming an artificial tooth root.
Once this occurs, we can reopen the gums to attach an abutment (the connection point between the implant and the crown). This will take another few weeks to heal and then we can attach the dental crown, which is fabricated from impressions taken of your teeth.
Single-tooth implants only replace a single tooth at a time and while they’re excellent for very minor tooth loss, replacing many teeth with individual implants would be very costly, time-consuming, and invasive.
When you lose a tooth, it’s important to replace it so that the surrounding teeth don’t start to shift. Failure to replace a missing tooth will result in irreversible bone loss that comes with steep consequences, such as changes to your facial structure and bite.
Replacing a single tooth with a dental implant will preserve the existing jawbone, prevent teeth from drifting, and provide a stable base in the jawbone so that your teeth never move when you chew or speak. Best of all, when you have lost a tooth at the front of the mouth, the crown attached to the dental implant restores your smile by filling in gaps that cause insecurity.
Full-Arch implants replace an entire arch of teeth with a series of implants rather than a single tooth connected to a single implant. This is only recommended for extensive tooth loss, as the remaining teeth will need to be extracted before replacing the arch of teeth with an implant-retained denture or bridge.
You can choose between fixed or removable teeth. The process of installing full-arch implants is similar to traditional implants. First, incisions are made into the gums to reveal access to the jawbone. Then, the titanium posts are embedded in the jawbone.
4 to 6 implants are used to support an entire arch of teeth. All-On-Four implants can support an entire arch with just four dental implants by placing the two implants at the back of the jaw at a 45-degree angle.
O-rings are then placed as the connection points between the implants and the bridge. The bridge is fabricated after impressions are taken of your mouth. You will first receive an immediate temporary bridge and then after a few fittings, this will be replaced with your official prosthesis.
Full-arch implants are an alternative to traditional dentures, which not only fail to preserve bone density in the jaw but actively accelerate bone loss due to pressure on the bone ridge, especially when they become loose.
Dentures are also prone to shifting around when patients speak and eat, which causes challenges in social situations and mastication. Patients experience diet limitations and worry about embarrassing moving teeth.
With full-arch implants, your dental bridge is firmly held in place so that you can eat whatever you want and speak for as long as you’d like having to worry about your teeth moving or worse, falling out.
When you have extensive tooth loss, bone loss is even more of a concern because you can lose support in the muscles of the face, causing changes in your appearance. An implant-supported bridge preserves the existing jawbone and prevents facial sagging.
If you are only missing a single tooth or have a few missing teeth that are neighboring sufficiently healthy teeth, then single-tooth implants are likely your best option.
Because replacing a large number of teeth with individual implants would require extensive oral surgery, prolonged recovery, and exorbitant costs, this is likely not a good choice for you if you are already missing most of your teeth.
We recommend full-arch implants for patients with extensive tooth loss that want to combine the versatility and accessibility of dentures with all of the benefits of dental implants.
"I am a dentist who loves being a dentist. No judging, no moral high horse. Just honest, quality dental care provided with passion."
– Dr. Brad Wisowaty