Single tooth dental implants are intended to replace a missing tooth, or a tooth that will soon be missing—when the tooth is severely decayed or otherwise damaged and must be extracted. There are certain dental conditions that can be corrected by adding a dental implant to an existing tooth. This can be an unconventional approach, but it's becoming an accepted method for correcting an impacted adult tooth.
Eruption and Impaction
When teeth emerge from the gums, this is known as eruption. The tooth erupts from the gums and continues its physical development. If the tooth fails to erupt, it's impacted. It may be totally or partially impacted. This is common with wisdom teeth but can affect any tooth.
A partially impacted tooth may look noticeably smaller than your other teeth. However, it can still be perfectly functional. Its degree of impaction can make cleaning the tooth difficult, so impacted teeth can be more prone to infection, but this isn't the case for everyone with the condition. Sometimes the condition is only cosmetic, which isn't to say it's not important. You may have simply learned to live with your impacted tooth.
The Implant Process
How can a dental implant correct an impacted tooth? For standard cases, the implant is placed in your jaw, and once the bone has integrated with the implant's base, a prosthetic tooth will be attached. Of course, this process may seem impossible if the dental socket to receive the implant still contains a tooth. The process is slightly different when it's used to correct dental impaction.
Implant Through Impaction
The impacted tooth will not be removed at first. Your jaw will be numbed, and your dentist will drill an access hole through the impacted tooth. The implant is then inserted through the tooth and into your jaw. The bone will begin to regrow around the implant in a process called osseointegration, which takes roughly two to six months.
After successful osseointegration, your dentist will make a small incision at the base of the impacted tooth, on its palatal side (closest to the tongue). The tooth will then be extracted, revealing the intact and integrated dental implant. A permanent prosthetic tooth can then be bonded to the implant. This prosthetic tooth will look like the tooth it's replacing, minus the impaction. While the prosthesis will be the correct size for the tooth in question, it may appear larger than the impacted tooth it has replaced.
Replacing an impacted tooth with a dental implant used to require removal of the tooth first, followed by adequate healing time. Modern dentistry means that this prior removal is no longer necessary, resulting in less recovery time for you.
For more information, contact a local dental office, like Dr Taylors Family Dental Center.