Not every patient that opts to replace a tooth with a dental implant has enough bone. Therefore, before a prosthodontist, a dentist that specializes in dental implants, can screw a dental implant into your jawbone, they must first ensure that there is enough bone. When you lose a tooth, the jawbone in that area begins to deteriorate. It is no longer needed.

Some patients require a bone graft before an implant can be placed. This ensures that there is enough anchorage for the dental implant once placed. However, if a patient has been wearing a flipper as a temporary replacement for that tooth, they should refrain from wearing it for a week or two. This give this implant site time to heal.

The Flipper Places Pressure on the Site

Wearing a partial denture right after a bone graft and implant placement could put pressure on the surgical site. Too much pressure could interfere with the healing process, slowing it and even increasing the risk of dental implant failure. Although going without a tooth for a week or two might be inconvenient, it is worth it to ensure the implant site has time to heal.

During the first week or two after bone graft surgery, a process called angiogenesis occurs whereby newly placed bone forms capillaries as it integrates with your jawbone. This phase is crucial to the success of the graft. The surgery site may also be swollen and so a partial denture could irritate the soft tissues. Fortunately, there is an alternative.  

You Can Wear a Retainer Instead

While you may not be able to wear your flipper, you can instead opt to replace it with a retainer especially prepared by your dentist. Essix retainers, more often used to keep teeth in their new positions after braces, can also replace your partial denture temporarily. Because retainers sit over your teeth, not your gums, there is no risk that they might interfere with the healing of the implant site.

If you are dreading going without a tooth then due to work or your social life, ask your dentist to prepare an Essix retainer with a false tooth. Essix retainers can be worn immediately after surgery and adjusted by the dentist beforehand if need be so that they don't place pressure on the healing site.

As you wait for your dental implant site to heal, an Essix retainer can serve as a safe and convenient way to replace a missing tooth. Some patients even begin to prefer them over their partial dentures.