If you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign and have one or more missing teeth, the best time to replace those teeth with implants is generally just before or after your braces come off. Placing dental implants too early in your orthodontic treatment will result in your implant not lining up with your natural teeth.
However, it is only natural that you want to fill any gaps before your braces come off so that you can enjoy your new smile without worrying about missing teeth. Orthodontists are aware that any gaps left post-orthodontic treatment should be filled with implants or a dental crown to prevent teeth from shifting. Remaining teeth should first be moved into their ideal positions before this can happen.
You May Need a Bone Graft First
Research shows that the bone density in around teeth in the alveolar ridge decreases slightly. Likewise, any extraction gaps will experience accelerated bone loss due to the absence of teeth. Because of this, you may need a bone graft in the area where the implant will be placed, prior to having your braces removed. Ideal grafting time is about 4-6 months prior to dental implant placement.
This means that, if you are currently 6 months into a 12-month orthodontic treatment plan, now is the time to have your bone grafting done. In this case, as long as most of the pre-planned tooth movement is complete after 4 months, it may be possible for you to have your implant placed 2 months before your braces come off. Implants generally take from 3-6 months to heal so, provided your oral health is good, your dental implant may be only 1-2 months away from being fully functional once you braces are off.
Implants Can be Placed Even Earlier
When conditions are just right, i.e. when there is enough healthy bone, and the adjacent teeth have already moved as much as they are going to, your dental implant can be placed mid-orthodontic treatment. In this circumstance, you could have a fully functional dental implant ready to use once your braces come off. However, this is not always possible and completely depends on the individual.
If you are bothered about wearing a flipper or walking around with a gap in your newly straightened smile, speak to your orthodontist about the possibility of placing a dental implant mid-treatment. If it is possible, they can refer you to a prosthodontist so treatment can begin.