Updated on February 9, 2024
7 min read

What is a Single Tooth Implant?

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What is a Single Tooth Implant?

A dental implant replaces the natural tooth and its roots with a titanium screw surgically placed into the jawbone. Dentists can perform a single-tooth implant if you have one missing tooth

The screw allows your dentist to attach a dental crown, which replaces the natural tooth. After the procedure, your artificial tooth will look and function like the rest of your natural teeth.

What Can a Single Tooth Implant Fix?

A single tooth implant can replace a missing tooth caused by:

  • A sports injury
  • Oral health problems
  • Gum disease

The implant is produced to replace a missing tooth and its root. It offers the most natural look and function of all tooth replacement methods.

How Do Single Tooth Implants Work?

The entire process of a single tooth implant can take months. Dental implants involve three parts:

  1. Implant ⁠— The titanium screw your dentist installs into your jawbone
  2. Abutment ⁠— The connection between the implant and crown
  3. Crown ⁠— The artificial tooth that will look and function like the rest of your natural teeth
dental implant NewMouth

Dentists perform approximately 99% of dental implant surgeries under local anesthesia. Sometimes this is in combination with intravenous or oral sedation.

These are the general steps of a single tooth implant procedure:

  1. Your first visit involves a consultation to ensure you qualify for a dental implant procedure.
  2. Once you and your dentist approve a treatment plan, they will perform a surgical procedure to install the titanium screw into your jaw.
  3. The implanted screw will take two to six months to bond with your jawbone, creating an anchor for the crown.
  4. During recovery, your dentist may fit a temporary tooth replacement or cap over the implant site to ensure proper healing.
  5. Once the site has healed, your dentist will install an abutment connecting the artificial tooth (crown) to the titanium screw.
  6. After taking proper measurements and impressions for your crown, your dentist will send them to a dental lab.
  7. You will come in for another procedure to install your crown.

Types of Dental Implants

There are two main types of implants:

Endosteal Implant

An endosteal implant is installed in the jawbone. They are usually made of titanium and look like small screws.

Dental Implant

Subperiosteal Implant

A subperiosteal implant is installed under the gum but on the jawbone. Dentists may perform this type of implant if:

  • A person does not have enough healthy bone
  • A person can’t or doesn’t want to have a bone augmentation procedure

Bone Grafting Procedure

If your dentist decides your jawbone is not sturdy enough for the implant, they may suggest a bone grafting procedure.

A bone grafting procedure involves these steps:

  1. Your dentist will extract bone from another source or use synthetic material
  2. They will add it to your jaw to create a strong foundation for the implant
  3. You will need 4 to 12 months to fully heal before getting the implant procedure

If your jawbone cannot support dental implants, other methods to build a foundation for implants include:

  • Bone augmentation ⁠— Involves restoring bone in your jaw using additives and growth factors
  • Sinus lift ⁠— Involves adding bone below the sinus if the natural bone has decayed from any missing upper back teeth
  • Ridge expansion ⁠— Involves adding bone graft material to a small ridge made along the top of your jaw

Every individual’s case is different, and the process may be longer for others. A dental professional will work with you to arrange the best treatment plan for your needs.

Who is a Candidate for Single Tooth Implants?

To be eligible for a dental implant, you must have:

  • Healthy gums
  • Enough bone to support the implant (or qualify for bone grafting)
  • Excellent oral health and hygiene
  • Regular dental visits for the long-term efficiency and health of the dental implant

A prosthodontist must perform a comprehensive review of your medical history. They should also conduct an exam before starting the procedure.

Some medical issues could prevent an individual from receiving dental implants. These medical problems may include:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • A severe bleeding disorder
  • Cancer

Single Tooth Implant vs. Dental Bridge

A dental implant offers various advantages over other tooth replacement options. As well as looking and working like a natural tooth, a dental implant can replace one tooth without affecting the health of neighboring teeth.

render of dental bridge

Here is a comparison between a single tooth implant and a dental bridge:

Single Tooth ImplantDental Bridge
The bone is preserved wellSome of the bone surrounding the missing tooth will start to deteriorate
More invasive; requires surgeryLess invasive; does not require surgery
Requires healthy bones to support the implantIt needs strong teeth on either side to anchor the replacement tooth
More expensive than a dental bridgeCheaper than a dental implant
It has the closest resemblance in looks and function to natural teethThe bone underneath the bridge can resorb and result in an unattractive smile
Maintenance only requires regular toothbrushing and flossingIt needs careful care to avoid food and bacteria buildup underneath the bridge
The screw can last a lifetime, and the crown will need replacing after approximately 15 yearsIt only lasts 5 to 7 years

Recovering from a Single Tooth Implant

Complete recovery from implant surgery may take two to six months. However, the swelling and discomfort post-surgery can go away within a few days to six weeks.

After implant surgery, you may experience a few symptoms, such as:

  • Minor swelling
  • Discomfort
  • Light bruising

If you need bone or soft tissue grafting during the implant placement, the swelling is usually more significant post-surgery. You can manage these symptoms by taking medicine and following the post-surgery management your dentist will prescribe.

After around seven to ten days, you can usually return to your typical diet routine. Sometimes, a person may need to stick to a soft diet for up to six weeks following surgery.

Recovery times from dental implant treatment can differ depending on:

  • The person
  • The number of teeth affected
  • How the recovery process is managed

What are the Risks of Dental Implants?

Post-procedure risks for dental implants are uncommon, but they can happen. These risks include:

  • A temporary or permanent nerve injury in the jawbone, which results in numbness and tingling
  • Sinus issues; caused by an implant jutting into the sinus cavity

Before the procedure, your dentist can identify your nerve placement through X-rays and CT scans, reducing the risk of injury.

Can a Dental Implant Fail?

An implant can fail for a few reasons:

  • Your dentist failed to adjust your bite correctly
  • Clenching or grinding; can break the implant and cause bone loss
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Lack of professional care post-procedure

A dental implant can also fail if an infection develops. However, this rarely happens.

How Much Does a Single Tooth Implant Cost?

A single dental implant procedure costs between $3,000 and $4,000. However, the cost varies depending on your area and dentist. Implants are typically more expensive than other tooth-replacement procedures.

Does Insurance Cover Dental Implants?

Dental insurance does not usually cover dental implants. Some dental insurance may help cover the crown installation.

Dental insurance often views dental implants as an elective treatment even though implants are typically the standard for replacing missing teeth.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last? 

With good oral hygiene, a dental implant screw can last a lifetime. The crown lasts around 10 to 15 years before it may need replacing.

Following excellent oral hygiene practices could extend the life of a dental crown longer than 15 years. This includes:

  • Brushing and flossing twice a day
  • Rinsing your mouth after eating
  • Visiting a dentist at least twice a year

The location of the dental implant in the mouth is also a factor in predicting its longevity. Implants in the rear of the mouth are used more for chewing. Therefore, the crown is more likely to wear out quickly than implants near the mouth’s front.

Summary

  • A single tooth implant is for people with only one missing tooth
  • It can fix missing teeth caused by a traumatic injury or oral health problems
  • Candidates for a single tooth implant must have healthy gums and enough bone to support the implant structure
  • The implant procedure costs between $3,000 and $4,000
  • An implant procedure can fail due to a number of factors, including infection, but this is rare

Last updated on February 9, 2024
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Gupta et al. “Dental Implants.” StatPearls  Publishing, 2021.
  2. Al-Quran et al. “Single-tooth replacement: factors affecting different prosthetic treatment modalities.” BMC Oral Health, 2011.
  3. de Lange, GL. “Aesthetic and prosthetic principles for single tooth implant procedures: an overview.” Practical periodontics and aesthetic dentistry: PPAD, 1995.
  4. Gaviria et al. “Current trends in dental implants.” Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 2014.
  5. Dental implant procedure.” Health Direct, 2021.
  6. van der Wijk et al. “The cost of dental implants as compared to that of conventional strategies.” The International journal of oral & maxillofacial implants, 1998.
  7. Types of Implants and Techniques.” American Academy of Implant Dentistry.
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