For someone who has only lost a single natural tooth, replacing it with one dental implant and a crown is fairly simple. If you’re missing multiple or even all of your teeth, though, the number of dental implants you’ll need isn’t quite as clear-cut. After all, it usually isn’t necessary to place a dedicated implant for every individual tooth. So, how many dental implants will it take to restore your smile? Here are some questions your dentist must ask to determine the answer!
Are the Implants Going in the Upper or Lower Jaw?
Typically, the bone in the upper jaw is much softer than that of the lower jaw. Therefore, more implants have to be placed in the upper jaw to create the same stability for prosthetic teeth. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to secure a full denture in the upper jaw with fewer than four implants, but the maximum is usually eight implants.
It’s possible to anchor a full implant denture in the lower jaw with just two posts, but this solution may still wobble a bit when you chew. So, most dentists will recommend between four and eight implants.
How Much Bone Density Do Your Jaws Have?
Like the foundation of a house becomes stabler when the posts are placed deeper into the soil, dental implants become more secure when positioned deep into the jawbone. If you have a strong, healthy jawbone, your dentist can place a smaller number of longer implants. However, if your jawbone has atrophied (a common long-term side effect of tooth loss), more implants will need to be placed because the posts must be shorter.
Do You Want Your Prosthetic Teeth to Be Fixed or Removeable?
Maybe you’ve been wearing a regular denture and don’t want to switch up your routine of taking it out to clean it every day. Perhaps you’d like your replacement teeth to always stay in your mouth so that you can brush and floss them like natural teeth. Your preferences on this matter will impact the number of implants required to support your prosthesis.
As a rule of thumb, a fixed implant denture needs more posts to hold it in place than a removeable one. In most cases, the former will require between four and eight implants whether it’s on the upper or lower jaw. A removable prosthesis will typically need two to five implants on the lower jaw and four to eight on the upper jaw.
Of course, the only way to know for sure how many dental implants you’ll need is to visit your implant dentist for a consultation. They’ll discuss your specific oral health needs and preferences to come up with a solution that will give you a complete, confident smile again!
About the Author
Dr. Steve Margolian is a dentist in East York, ON who has been serving the dental needs of Toronto-area families for more than three decades. After studying undergraduate sciences and engineering at the University of Toronto, he earned a Masters of Engineering degree, focusing on the materials used to create dental implants. He then obtained his doctorate in dentistry from the University of Toronto. Because of his advanced training, he can complete every step of the dental implant process under one roof at Donlands Family Dentistry. Get started on rebuilding your smile by contacting Dr. Margolian at 416-551-5224.