Many times several implants can be used to replace many teeth. It really depends on the quality and the quantity of the available bone and the design of the final restoration. For instance, if we are only replacing one tooth, of course, one tooth is replaced with one dental implant. A single-tooth implant is a single tooth replacement for a single missing tooth. There are also cases where two or three teeth will require individual implants to replace each tooth. However, if there is good quality and quantity of bone, we can often use two implants to support a three-unit bridge or four implants to help anchor a five-unit bridge.
In cases where the patient is missing all their teeth, we may use four or five implants to support a full-arch restoration.
With the three-dimensional technology we have in our office and our ability to evaluate the quality and quantity of bone in three dimensions, we plan the case with the referring dentist. We can decide in advance for instance, if two or three implants can be used to support a multiple unit bridge. This decision would depend not only on the quality of the bone and how much bone there is, but also on the size of the dental implants we would be using.
These decisions really depend a lot on my own experience based on what I have seen over the years and of course close collaboration with the restorative dentist. The final result is that we want to provide the most predictable long-term solution to that patient’s dental needs with the use of the dental implants. We always try to use the fewest number of implants and be as conservative as possible, but at the same time our goal is to create a result that is very stable and long-lasting for the patient.
Dr. Leonard Spector