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Replacing a single tooth with an implant supported tooth is relatively simple procedure but must follow essentially the same procedural steps as replacing a greater number of teeth. Let me give you a brief overview of the steps involved in single tooth replacement with dental implants.

Try and save the original tooth

Prior to any such replacement efforts a good dentist will try and save the original tooth. Normally a  replacement tooth cannot  be as good as a natural tooth, even a restored one.

Examination

A thorough assessment examination is needed to determine whether the patient is fit for receiving an implant. The various tests normally conducted for this purpose include:

  • Visual examination
  • 3-D imaging, using computer aided X-rays.
  • Bone quality tests

Treatment of current disease: If some treatment is needed, say for existing an gum or periodontal disease, that will be given before the implant procedure can be applied.

Removal of existing tooth: The bad tooth will be extracted, since it cannot be saved.

Bone augmentation: If tests have determined that the bone is deficient in the surrounding region, it must be augmented through a graft procedure. An autograft involves harvesting bone from own body and grafting at the desired location. Allograft means bone is taken from a tissue bank. Good quality bone will gradually replace the porous bone mass.

Soft tissue augmentation: While an implant is being planned it is a good consideration to see if gum flesh needs augmentation. Gum flesh must be sufficient to cover the implant. Else, it will present an un-aesthetic view.

Sinus Lift: In case a tooth in the upper jaw is to be replaced, tests may determine that a ‘sinus-lift ‘operation is required to increase the height of the upper jaw.

Tooth extraction: Once the bone graft and gum graft have matured and the flesh has healed, the bad tooth is extracted.

Implant and abutment placement: a hole is drilled very carefully into the jaw bone. The drill speed is controlled to avoid damaging bone cells. The hole is shaped, and in some cases tapped (if the implant is not self-tapping). The implant is the screwed in and the abutment applied.

Placement of the crown: In conventional practice, three to six months are allowed for osseointegration of the bone with the implant. However, current tendency is to apply the crown also at the same time. This one surgery of the gum. Immediate crowns will normally be replaced with permanent crowns later

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