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The role of orthodontics in implant treatment

Dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth that can restore your smile and provide nearly the same functionality as natural teeth–but if you’ve been missing one or more teeth for a long time, you might require additional treatments before your jaw is ready for implants.

In this article, we’ll discuss how orthodontics can reverse the effects of shifted teeth and prepare your mouth for an implant.

Why do teeth shift?

When you grab a tooth and try to move it, it feels like it’s firmly embedded into your jawbone. However, teeth are held in place not by bone but by ligaments in your gums. This system is highly advantageous when you have all of your teeth. It allows for slight adjustments in your oral structure to compensate for biting pressure.

But when you’re missing one or more teeth, the empty space can cause adjacent teeth to drift out of place in an attempt to fill the gap. Too much misalignment and a new tooth will no longer fit into the space.

Two types of orthodontic treatment

Luckily, this natural drifting can be reversed:

  • Traditional metal braces are an option for realigning your teeth and, in severe cases, sometimes the only option.
  • If your bite misalignment is minor, an alternative is to use a series of clear aligners to slowly move teeth over time. Custom aligners will be made to fit your mouth and every two to three weeks you will change to a slightly smaller aligner to guide your teeth back to where they belong.

Adults often prefer clear aligners as they are almost invisible and can be removed during special occasions. A temporary prosthesis can sometimes be attached to the aligner to cover the gap until your orthodontic treatment is finished and you’re ready for your dental implant.