A Dental Implant Disaster Waiting to Happen

Question:
I have a 6 unit bridge (6-11). I’m losing tooth #11, so the bridge needs to be replaced. Would dental implants work here? 7-10 has no bone. Bone grafting is not my option. Is it possible to have a dental implant bridge for 7-11 teeth? Standard dental implant for #11 and mini dental implant for 7-10, (One-piece) Is it going to be strong enough to hold the mini dental implant?? That’s my dentist recommended if bone grafting is not an option Please help!!!
– Marie from Las Vegas

Marie,
Oh, Marie, this sounds like trouble waiting to happen. You can’t have a dental implant that holds up over time if there is no bone.

Just to brief readers here, you are talking about using implants to support four incisors (teeth numbers 7-10) and one canine tooth (number 11).

Here is what is going to happen with your plan, the way you’re explaining it, assuming I’m getting correct information about what your dentist is planning to do. This dentist is going to put in these two dental implants. You’re going to walk out of his (or her) office with lovely looking teeth and maybe think he is wonderful. Then, in a few months or a couple of years, you’re going to be looking up Dr. Chal’s website again under dental implant failure, trying to figure out what went wrong and why your teeth are getting loose.

A tooth has to bear a certain amount of stress if it’s going to function. Back teeth, because of the leverage that is on them being so close to the hinge of your jaw joint, bear more stress than front teeth, but that stress is vertical. Front teeth are subject more to lateral stresses – forces that tend to push them forward and back or side to side. If their foundation in bone is not strong enough, they will eventually become loose and fall out.

I’m hoping there is some misunderstanding here on your part with what your dentist is suggesting, because if he (or she) is suggesting that he is going to try to support four teeth with one mini implant, then my advice for you is to “head for the tall grass.” In other words, get out of that office and find someone who knows what they are doing. A mini implant has 1/3 the diameter of a standard implant. A standard implant could maybe support one front tooth, possibly two, if the teeth are small. So you could support maybe a central incisor and a smaller lateral incisor with one standard implant. A mini implant can support maybe 1/2 or 1/3 of a tooth. The proper use of mini implants is to add a little stability to a complete denture, not to support a tooth. Trying to use one to support four front teeth is a disaster waiting to happen. As I said, you may walk out of the office looking great, but the implant will end up coming loose down the road leaving you in a worse condition than you started.

A 6-unit bridge, which is how you started, replacing four incisors and retained by two canine teeth, is a risky situation to begin with. So now you have lost one of the canine teeth supporting that bridge, which doesn’t surprise me. The bridge would probably have held up better if your dentist had used a couple more teeth to anchor it. So now you have five missing teeth. That is too many, if the teeth are across the front and thus subject to those lateral stresses that I talked about, to try to restore with another bridge. You’ll be repeating the same mistake you’ve just been through, only magnified because you’ve lost a canine tooth now, and the canine is one of the key anchor teeth in the jaw.

You have two realistic options for your situation. Get the bone grafting done so that you can have the implants done right. Or, go to a removable partial denture. And get yourself in the hands of a dentist who knows what he or she is doing – please!

This blog is sponsored by Dr. Arthur Chal, who places Phoenix dental implants.

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