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Molar Implants, Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Nature performs a cruel bait-and-switch on humans in the form of baby teeth and permanent teeth. Here you are, eight years of age and receiving a reward for losing teeth only to find out that the second group is the end of the line.

With modern dental technology, two sets aren't necessarily the limit. Now one can get teeth reinstalled with dentures, partials, and even molar implants. Suffering a loss isn't permanent, though nobody leaves you a pound for any tooth lost after adolescence. Economic and social indicators play a big part in how many teeth one loses in life. The average adult citizen is walking around with 2.4 - 2.8 fewer teeth than they started with (not counting wisdom teeth).

When it comes to your molars, you can have them replaced just as with any of your teeth. Molars have just as much of a vital role to play even if they aren’t visible when you smile. Much of the hard work with your eating is done at the back of your mouth and the biting surface of your molars has a crucial part to play. If you lose a molar, it can have an impact on the surrounding teeth, above and adjacent. To avoid any complications, we recommend that you replace missing teeth to keep your smile healthy and whole.

Can I get an implant for a missing molar?

Yes! Implants are the best choice for replacing missing teeth as they not just restore the crown part of the tooth but the root as well. While all molar implants are dental implants, not all implants are for molars. This distinction is important because of the function of molars within the mouth.

Current implants last a decade or longer when set properly and kept in good repair. However, implants aren't the only way to replace missing teeth.

Still, to understand the significance you'll need a baseline, so that's presented here.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant consists of three major pieces: screw, abutment, crown.

Crowns are placed after many dental procedures to add strength and protection to teeth.

The other two pieces work as replacements for natural parts as well. The abutment is an anchor for the crown. Which leaves the screw (sometimes called a post) as a type of iron root.

The roots of teeth are strong, go deep, and provide reinforcement to the conduits of blood that keep the pulp of teeth going. Unfortunately, screws only provide a deep tether into the jawbone, there's currently no way to keep tooth pulp healthy after infiltration.

What happens during implant treatment?

An implant procedure is composed of several steps, each of which takes time.

First, a dentist conducts an examination to determine the plausibility of an implant being effective. This includes imaging of the area to look at the shape of teeth for the crown, the density of the jawbone for the screw, and risks of surrounding teeth.

If the dentist needs to perform extractions before an implant can begin, there may need to be recovery time between the initial exam and the screw implantation.

An oral surgeon implants the screw and the bone grows and integrates with it. This takes between four and six months. If a bone graft is required, that will take even more time. Typically, patients with bone density issues owing to age, disease, or certain genetic factors are candidates for bone grafts.

Dentists tap into a variety of bone grafting techniques when needed. For those with low overall bone density, external grafts from other humans, animals, and even synthetics are all possible. For many, a bone from the hip or tibia is used to ensure compatibility.

Once the screw becomes integrated, a dentist attaches a crown to complete the procedure. Typically it takes time to mould a crown from initial imaging. Dentists order crowns during recovery, so there's no reason for them to take extra time.

The total timeline from start to finish of an implant as a procedure for tooth replacement takes an average of six months.

Can Wisdom Teeth be Replaced?

Wisdom teeth don't make good candidate teeth for implants for several reasons. First, they are often removed in early adulthood because they are evolutionary vestiges from times when jawbones were longer. They don't tend to fit in your head as is.

Second, the pressures at the back end of the jaw are stronger than those towards the front. The jaw bone also tapers, leaving less room for a strong screw/bone integration.

Why are implants the best choice for restoring back molars?

Molars face additional pressures from the type of bite force they face. Additionally, the roots of molars are larger than those of your incisors and canines. Implants offer the strongest and longer lasting solution for missing teeth, however they do have a longer recovery period. It can take as long as six months for the implant to become fully bonded. Implanted molars take more recovery time to ensure strong osseointegration. Some implants, known as subperiosteal, are placed above the jawline in the gums. These implants work for front teeth but cannot hold as strongly. For a dental implant of a molar, endosteal implants are required.

Molars work better when held in place as part of a system. A single molar implant is more likely to hold without complication than several in conjunction. This includes side by side and top/bottom of the mouth.

For those with two or more teeth gaps, dentists recommend partial dentures or bridges.

Can I have an implant if my tooth has been missing for a long time?

The longer it's been since an extraction, the more likely your gum and jawbone will deteriorate. The mouth is a complex system and each weak part risks cascading effects that cause damage to nearby systems.

If you've had a gap for a decade, it's possible to undergo an implant procedure but the results will depend largely on the density of bone and the condition of gums. This isn't known territory, so some investigations such as a CT scan may be required.

A skilled oral surgeon or restorative dentist knows the conditions that affect implantation success. They will go over the options and rates of success based on your individual conditions.

Do I Need a Back Molar Implant?

Molars provide a lot of support to the jaw and comfort in eating harder foods that need to be ground and mashed. Missing molars isn't as noticeable cosmetically but lack of function adds up.

People missing multiple molars often need to swap to soft food diets. One missing tooth also creates looseness in surrounding teeth, so addressing gaps is important to slow overall decay.

For a single missing molar, an implant is likely a good choice. For multiple, a bridge or partial denture is also a possible course of action.

Get Started

To learn more about molar implants and their cost to you, contact us for a consultation.

Acting in a timely fashion offers a stronger chance that your oral health can be preserved and restored.


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