When a tooth is missing in the jaw, it leaves two noticeable gaps: one between the teeth on either side of the missing tooth, and one within the jawbone where the tooth root used to be. Over time these gaps will close. The adjacent teeth will tip into the space between them, and the jawbone will shrink into the cavity the tooth root used to be in.
This can result in teeth becoming crooked. The tipped teeth will be sensitive to chew on, which often results in people favouring the opposite side of the mouth. This extra pressure can and will result in worn, chipped, and cracked teeth on the other side. Ultimately, not replacing that one tooth can lead to many more becoming damaged or crooked, meaning much more expensive and time-consuming treatment plans to fix it all.
Dental implants need time for the bone to fuse around the actual implant. This can take several weeks, or even up to six months. If the bone isn’t given enough time to heal properly it will result in an unstable implant and potential complications.
A single crown can be put on an implant to replace a single tooth. A dental bridge can also be supported on a dental implant, replacing 2-3 teeth with a single device.
For those missing many teeth, dentures can be supported by as few as four implants in a process known as All-on-Four.
In the All-on-Four process, the implant sites are very carefully chosen to maximize the support they can provide for the denture. Typically this will be as little as four implants, two in the front and one on either side. Some patients might require more implants, but it’s rarely six and almost never higher.
Regular dentures only sit on top of the gum. Sometimes they might be attached to remaining healthy teeth if any. Because the gum will continue to shrink without teeth to provide volume, regular dentures constantly need to be adjusted and are always at risk of slipping. Dental implants provide a support structure that is more stable and doesn’t require constant adjustments.
This would be up to your dentist or oral surgeon, but typically the answer is “no”. Smoking greatly increases the risk of gum disease and periodontal disease. Because dental implants involve oral surgery under general anesthesia, the risk of infection is simply too high for most surgical teams to risk.