Implant is a Preventive Measure

When we lose a tooth, we think that it is not a big deal, particularly if the missing tooth is in the back.  Nobody can see it.  I still have a lot of teeth left.  Maybe I can lose weight easier.  In fact, people with missing teeth are overweight, because they tend to eat more food, usually soft junky.  People with complete set of teeth can chew food with fiber, which makes them healthier and more skinny.

Today's topic will show you that a missing tooth causes problems in other part of our mouth.  Mr. Wang is in his forties. His lower left 2nd molar (#18 in Fig.1) is in bad shape and cannot be saved.  We talk about extraction and implant placement.  He is a smoker.  Implant fails more likely in smokers.  When the tooth is extracted, Mr. Wang does not show any interest in implant.

One year and a half later, he suddenly says that he wants the implant.  To make things easy, he has quit smoking.  The bad thing is that the upper left 2nd molar (#15, used to bite against the tooth #18 in Fig.1) has moved downward quite a bit (Fig.2).  Our teeth tend to drift when they are not supported by their neighbors, either next door or across the street.

Implant placement (Fig.3: I) is successful, but there is not enough space to get a crown over the implant.

What we need to do is to raise the tooth #15 (arrow in Fig.4) to gain the space for the crown over the implant.  These days, we can place two mini-implants (much smaller than regular implants as shown in Fig.3) on the either side of #15.  One of the mini-implants is shown as a brown circle in Fig.4, the other one is not shown, because it is on the other side of the tooth #15.  A rubber band is placed between these two mini-implants (blue in Fig.4).  Under the tension of the rubber band, the tooth #15 will gradually be pushed upward.  In a few months we will report the results.

In brief, we should restore a missing tooth as soon as possible to prevent bad effect on the other part of our mouth.  To assure successful implant surgery, Mr. Wang has quit smoking.  It has broad preventive measure on his whole body.  We will report more of instances that implant is a preventive measure, not just a treatment of a missing tooth.

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 02/26/2012, last revision 09/27/2012