Getting dental implants is no small thing, as you probably know. If you already have one or more dental implants and you’re looking to straighten your teeth, you may be wondering if getting braces after implants is a good idea.
While it’s best to get braces before getting dental implants, braces can work around the implants you already have. Keep in mind that dental implants are fused to the bone, so they can’t move, but they can be used as an anchor and the crown on top can be replaced to fit the new bite.
As we age, our teeth age with us, and we may need crowns, bridges and implants to replace the teeth we’ve lost. More and more adults are getting braces, which is why orthodontists, dental surgeons and dentists work together to rehabilitate complex cases.
Can you get braces with dental implants already in place?
I love to do things in their right order, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Over time, we learn to compromise and do the best we can with what we’ve got. This includes working on patients that already have dental implants in place before getting braces.
It’s absolutely possible to get braces if you already have implants, especially if those implants are replacing your back teeth. We’ll use braces to work around your implant, and even use the crown on top of the implant as anchorage for moving other teeth. (Here’s how we bond braces to crowns, in case you’re wondering).
The situation gets a little complicated, however, if your implant is replacing a front tooth, but I doubt that’s your case. If you have crooked front teeth and need an implant, your dentist should first refer you to an orthodontist and save the implant for later.
Dental implants are fused to the bone, so it’s impossible to move them with braces. As the bone grows inside the implant’s structure, it makes it increasingly difficult to ever remove it, so you can think of your implant as a permanent object inside your mouth.
The same can’t be said, however, for dental crowns. If braces end up significantly changing your bite, or if the crown no longer fits in alignment with your front teeth, you may need to have it changed. Changing a crown that sits on top of a dental implant is easy, as they’re designed to be removable. But hopefully, you won’t need any adjustments.
Can you get Invisalign if you have a dental implant?
Clear aligners are even more customizable when it comes to moving teeth around dental implants. Invisalign is the best example of how orthodontists plan dental movements digitally, with great precision.
As I mentioned above, you can’t really move an implant with braces once it’s fused to the bone, compared to moving teeth that become loose inside the bone. But the great advantage of clear aligners is that they can be designed not to modify the area in which the dental implant sits.
This means that Invisalign will only work on certain parts of your teeth that need correction, and leave others untouched. Compared to braces, this makes for a highly individual and fast treatment.
Which should you get first: dental implants or braces?
If you need both braces and dental implants, you may be wondering which goes first. Well, the good news is that you don’t have to decide this for yourself. Leave it up to your local dentist, oral surgeon and orthodontist – they should know what’s best for your case.
But, if you’re curious, here’s what I consider to be the right order:
If you need both dental implants and braces, it’s best to get braces first to correct crooked teeth and upright tilted molars. You can get dental implants during the last months of braces, or just as your orthodontic treatment is coming to an end. Your dentist will save the permanent crown for when braces come off.
You may not notice this yourself, but if you have missing teeth, the neighboring teeth often end up tilting in the extraction spaces. This is often an issue for dentists, as placing a crown in this common situation may lead to periodontal disease, and pockets in which food debris and bacteria can accumulate.
Fortunately, braces will correct tilted teeth while also straightening your front teeth and giving you a great smile.
When the correction is complete, braces need to stay on your teeth for a few more months for the finishing phase. In my opinion, this is the best time to get dental implants in – the screw part, which needs some time to fuse to the bone.
This way, you’ll save some time that you would’ve otherwise spent waiting for your implant to be ready for crowns.
When your braces come off, you’ll receive a retainer that you need to wear diligently, to keep your teeth from shifting and your back teeth from tilting again. After getting a crown on your dental implant, you’ll receive a new retainer to fit the your new dentition.
Is it better to get implants or braces?
Braces and dental implants aren’t mutually exclusive, in fact they complement each other. But I can see why you would ask this question. If you’re dealing with missing teeth, you’re probably wondering if you can close those gaps with braces and skip dental implants altogether.
Braces work better than dental implants if you have congenitally missing teeth, like a lateral incisor. There’s no medical consensus in this situation, but in many cases I like to close this space and replace the missing lateral incisor with its neighboring canine, shifting all the back teeth forward. This way, we avoid inserting an implant in a front area, which can cause some issues over the years.
It’s also possible to close molar extraction spaces with braces, when it comes to missing molars. This works best if the extraction is recent, if there’s no significant bone loss and if the patient is still young. It’s called molar protraction and we do it all the time in our orthodontic practices.
Dental implants are not the enemy, though, and we can decide that you need both braces and dental implants because closing those gaps would not benefit you. This is particularly true when multiple teeth are missing, or when extraction sites are too old and the bone is too narrow to move teeth through it.
Like I said, adult dentition is often complicated, and you may need bone powder addition and grafting surgery to create a better environment for your dental implants and braces. Rest assured that your orthodontist, dentist, oral surgeon and periodontist will all work together to address the complexities of your case.
We should all be so grateful for braces, dental implants and the many techniques and medical options that are available to us nowadays. Braces have come a long way, and they’re now used to both enhance your smile and prepare the site where your dental implant will be inserted.
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