For whatever reason, you’ve put off replacing a missing tooth for a while. Now you want to fill that empty gap in your smile with a dental implant restoration. You have a lot of options for replacing missing teeth, from state-of-the-art dental implants to affordable, but effective partial dentures. But if your tooth’s been missing for a long time, there could be a problem with space. This is because the teeth on either side of the space may have gradually drifted into it, leaving no room for the implant. You could need orthodontic work first to return these teeth to their proper position.
When a tooth goes missing the teeth on either side of the space naturally move or “drift” into it to help close the gap. This natural occurrence can reduce the space for a restoration if it has gone on for some time. To make room for a new prosthetic (false) tooth, we may have to move the drifted teeth back to where they belong.
We could use braces, metal or clear orthodontic devices with wires threaded through brackets bonded to the teeth that are then anchored, usually to back teeth. The orthodontist uses elastics or springs as well as possibly incrementally tightening of the wire against the anchors. These techniques create pressure or tension on the teeth for the desired direction of movement. The teeth’s natural mechanism for movement does the rest.
Metal or ceramic braces are an option but not the only one. Clear aligners or Invisalign are another way to move teeth if the bite problem (malocclusion) isn’t too severe. Aligners are a series of custom-made, clear, plastic trays worn over the teeth. The patient wears each tray, slightly smaller than the previous one in the series, for about two weeks before changing to the next one. The reduction in size gradually moves teeth to their intended target position.
In most cases, it is best to undergo orthodontic treatment before getting dental implants. This is because dental implants are permanently implanted into the jawbone, which means they cannot be moved once placed. Therefore, the teeth should be re-positioned first so that enough space is made available for placement of the dental implant(s) once orthodontic treatment is complete. If you are in this situation, you should speak to your orthodontist before being treated with braces so he or she can develop a treatment plan that accounts for your desire to get dental implants and make sure there is ample room available in the empty spaces to fit them.
Whichever orthodontic treatment you choose, once completed we can then proceed with restoration to permanently replace your missing teeth. While it can be a long process, the end result is a beautiful smile that could last for years to come.
If you have any questions about orthodontic treatment and dental implants, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Angel Orthodontics as we’re always happy to speak with you.