The best dental implant teeth crowns can be made in a variety of ways. The teeth can be made separately, like natural teeth or connected as bridges. This post refers to having more than one implant next to another.
In my Burbank dental implant practice, I restore the crowns or bridges for dental implants in a variety of ways depending on your unique situation.
Everyone usually wants separate individual teeth. Separate dental implant crowns allow you to floss normally between your teeth. Another advantage is that if the porcelain crown breaks or is damaged, it is easily repaired or replaced as one isolated tooth rather than having to replace two or more.
There are some disadvantages to individual implant teeth. If your teeth are long due to vertical bone loss, you may get more food stuck between two implants right next to each other. It sounds strange to get more food stuck if they are disconnected but it happens because implants don’t have a periodontal ligament which acts a shock absorber. When your dentist adjusts the space between the implants which is necessary to install the crowns, a good or bad space can be created. Lastly, single unit implant teeth crowns are more likely to break porcelain than connected ones
The above x-ray shows the best of both worlds. In this patient from Burbank, some of the implants are connected and some are individual.
Connected implant crowns are referred to as “splinted.” Splinted implants have the huge disadvantage that they are connected but that is also their advantage in some ways. Splinted implants are most commonly used in areas where the bone is soft and the bite forces are strong. That area is notoriously the upper molars. If your bone is soft and/or had to be grafted back, splinted implants distribute forces better to the bone. That will prevent bone loss over time that can happen around dental implants that get overloaded with bite forces such as clenching and grinding.
You can’t floss normally around connected dental implants but that is ok. If your teeth are designed well and a great lab is used, a floss threader, proxy brush and/or rubber tip works great. Connected implants are less likely to fracture porcelain.
in general, connected dental implants are better if there is any question about bone stability.
So what is the best? Each situation is very unique. I recommend different ways for different patients and in different areas of the mouth. This post is focused on back teeth. Front teeth dental implants have many other concerns from the cosmetic standpoint far beyond this post.
Ramsey A. Amin, D.D.S.
Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology /Implant Dentistry
Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry