If You're Only Missing One Tooth, Do You Need An Implant?
If you've only lost one tooth, you may wonder if it's really worth replacing that tooth. You can still chew and talk. Unless it's a front tooth, most people won't realize you are missing it. Can't you just leave that space empty? Well, you could — but that's not usually your best option. There are a few reasons why single tooth implants are generally recommended.
To protect your other teeth
When you lose one tooth and an empty space is left behind, all of the other teeth in that dental arch are affected. For instance, if you lose one bottom tooth, all of your other bottom teeth will be affected. The teeth that are directly next to the empty tooth space will shift into that tooth space. You may not notice this at first, but after five or ten years, the movement will be dramatic. As these neighboring teeth move, so do the other teeth. This can cause them to become misaligned and crooked. Misaligned teeth are harder to keep clean, and they make it harder to chew. By replacing one missing tooth with an implant, you're keeping all of the other teeth in their places and preventing this cascade of issues.
To protect your jaw bone
It's not just your other teeth that suffer when you lose a tooth. Your jaw bone can also be affected. Jaw bone tissue is used to being stimulated by the roots of your teeth. If one set of these roots is removed, as it is when you lose a tooth, the jaw bone in that area will start to deteriorate. This can cause your face to appear sunken in, and it can also put the nearby teeth at risk of moving or becoming abscessed. A dental implant will stimulate your jaw bone and keep it in good shape.
To ensure a natural look and feel
If you do not replace your missing tooth promptly, then your jaw bone will deteriorate and your other teeth will shift. If you then decide you want to fill that space with a tooth, your only option may be a bridge. A bridge does not look or feel as similar to a natural tooth as a dental implant does. So, if you want a natural look and feel, your best move is to get a single-tooth implant soon after losing a tooth.
Replacing one tooth is not nearly as silly as it might seem. For most patients, replacing that one missing tooth with a single implant is the recommended course of action.