Dental implants are not only the best tooth replacement option, it’s the option most likely to preserve your other teeth. But even so, you might lose a tooth next to your dental implant. If that happens, there are some good restoration options that can give you an attractive and functional result.

closeup of a man smiling, showing a missing Tooth

How Dental Implants Protect Your Natural Teeth

Many tooth replacement options can be damaging to your natural teeth.

Partial dentures often have hooks and clasps that go around your natural teeth. These metal hooks can cause wear on your natural teeth. But even if they don’t have metal hooks, the parts that go around your natural teeth can be damaging. The denture can collect food and bacteria and encourage decay where they touch your teeth.

Dental bridges can also damage teeth. Enamel has to be removed from the supporting teeth to support the bridge. Properly done, dental implants are almost as good as dental implants, but any time we remove healthy tooth material it weakens the tooth.

And these tooth replacement options don’t support themselves. This means that your natural teeth have to support more weight, which can make your teeth vulnerable to chipping, cracking, and wear, especially right next to the gap. It’s better than not replacing the missing tooth, but not ideal.

But dental implants are ideal. They are just like natural teeth, so they don’t cause wear or damage to neighboring teeth. And because they’re anchored in the jawbone, they support themselves and save your natural teeth from excessive loading.

Why You Might Lose a Tooth Next to a Dental Implant

Properly placed dental implants don’t cause any threat to your natural teeth, but there are some reasons why you might lose a tooth next to an implant.

Sometimes, the second tooth could be lost because of the gum disease that led to the loss of the first tooth. Receding gums and bone loss might have been controlled before the implant was placed, but can return. This can also put your implant at risk.

Gum disease could also have loosened the tooth, making it vulnerable to trauma.

Or perhaps the neighboring tooth was decayed and you hoped to save it with root canal therapy, which failed.

Treatment Options for the Lost Tooth

So how do we respond to the loss of a second tooth? First, we’ll look at the reasons why it was lost and recommend any changes that might be helpful in protecting the rest of your teeth. If you have TMJ or other bite problems, this may include adjusting your bite. Or perhaps we’ll recommend changes to your oral hygiene.

But once we’ve gotten a handle on tooth loss, we’ll decide how to restore the second tooth. These treatment options depend on your oral health and the condition of the area. We might put in a second dental implant. This is often the best option, but sometimes might not be good if there’s not enough room for the second implant.

We might also try making a cantilevered dental bridge supported only by the dental implant or by the natural neighboring tooth. This is not an ideal option, but it might be the best we have.

In some cases, we might even try supporting a bridge with a tooth on one side and the implant on the other. This isn’t ideal, either, because teeth and implants respond to bite forces differently and linking them together with a bridge can cause problems. In some cases, though, we may use a bridge with a breakaway section that can protect the implant if the force imbalance is too great.

Attractive, Long-Lasting Results in Wilmington, NC

At Kuzma Advanced Dentistry, we are focused on achieving the best results for you. That means we work to create restorations that are long-lasting, beautiful, and functional. If you’ve lost one or more teeth, we can help.

To learn more about your tooth replacement options, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with implant dentist Michael L. Kuzma.