According to some studies, up to 70 percent of people have misaligned teeth and about 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Therefore, it's not surprising that some people experience an overlap of the two issues. However, both problems can easily be fixed with braces and dental implants, but which procedure should you get done first? The answer is that it depends on your particular situation.
The Immovable Nature of Dental Implants
Dental implants are designed to replicate the form and function of natural teeth. To accomplish this, a titanium post is inserted into the jaw bone and capped with a dental crown. Over a period of time, the titanium post becomes integrated with the jawbone, a critical component to the stability and longevity of the implanted tooth.
However, because of this integration, the implant becomes a permanent fixture in the mouth. Unlike natural teeth, the titanium post will not move. When it comes to using braces to straighten misaligned teeth, this can be a benefit or a problem.
How Dental Implants Enhance Braces
Dental implants can serve as anchor points for braces, especially in cases where there are multiple teeth missing or teeth have grown into spaces in odd ways (e.g. a molar growing in at an angle). When strategically placed, the implant can help provide the tension necessary for moving teeth into the correct positions and, in some cases, speed up the process.
Use of implants can also eliminate the need for some dental appliances. For example, orthodontists will sometimes put a dental implant in the upper plate of the mouth as a substitute for headgear. The implant provides the needed anchoring without the embarrassment and hassle associated with headgear. Once the teeth have moved into position, the temporary implant is removed.
How Dental Implants Can Inhibit Braces
On the other side of the coin, dental implants can be problematic. Because they don't move, they can get in the way of other teeth trying to reposition themselves in the mouth. This can lead to crowding or gaps. While an orthodontist may be able to work around an existing implant, the straightening process may take longer or be more difficult than expected.
If the dental implant appears as though it's going to get in the way, the orthodontist may have it removed prior to fitting you for braces, and you'll have to wait until the process has completed before you can get the implant again. During this time period, you may experience bone loss because of the missing tooth. However, there may be things the dentist can do (such as a bone graft) that may preserve the socket while you're waiting.
So When Should You Get Implants?
In general, you should get braces first and then get the implants installed afterwards. The orthodontist can develop a treatment plan that accounts for your desire to get dental implants and make sure there is enough room in the empty spaces to fit them. This course of action will save you time and money over the long term.
The only time you should consider getting the implants first is if they will help with your treatment (e.g. serve as anchor points). The orthodontist will determine whether this is an option or not when he or she examines your mouth. Be aware, though, it's more likely the dentist will recommend temporary implants (also called mini dental implants) rather than permanent ones became temporary implants are easier to insert and heal faster.
If you're dealing with missing crooked teeth, an orthodontist can help you achieve a complete smile makeover using braces and implants. It's important that you work closely with your dentist during the process to give the procedure the highest chances of success. For more information about affordable orthodontics, connect with an orthodontist in your area.\
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