Missing Tooth? Here's Why You'll Want To Complete Invisalign Before Replacing It

Posted on: 27 June 2023

Can you undergo Invisalign treatment when you have a missing tooth? There's an order to your overall treatment, and it's quite straightforward. You must first complete the orthodontic repositioning of your teeth, and only then can you replace a missing tooth. Why must it happen in this order?

Dental Prosthesis

A lost permanent tooth must be replaced with a dental prosthesis (which is a realistic-looking false tooth, typically made of ceramic material). There are partial dentures, which are removable, but when only a single tooth is to be replaced, most patients opt for a fixed prosthesis that stays in place like a natural tooth. This means that the prosthesis will either be a dental implant or a dental bridge.

Implant or Bridge

An implant is a small titanium alloy screw, surgically placed in your jaw. As the bone heals around it, the implant's location is fixed, and it now becomes an artificial tooth root. The prosthetic tooth can then be bonded to the implant and is completely functional. A dental bridge sits atop the gums and is a false tooth securely suspended between the two teeth on either side of the empty dental socket (which is the gap). So why can these tooth replacement options create compatibility issues with Invisalign?

Bone Modifications

Invisalign applies gentle, consistent pressure to your teeth. The contours of the thermoplastic trays are carefully configured to slowly reposition teeth in their dental sockets, little by little moving into the ideal alignment. The portions of the jawbone holding the teeth will even be modified, gently breaking down and regrowing new tissue to support the teeth as they slowly move towards their final destination. This process only works with natural teeth supported in dental sockets attached to the jaw. A fixed dental prosthesis won't move in this way.

Proper Movement

Using Invisalign with a fixed dental prosthesis creates a literal barrier that prevents the teeth on either side of the false tooth from moving properly. It throws the entire process out of sync and leads to unpredictable (and certainly adverse) results. It should also be noted that Invisalign can shrink existing gaps between teeth (even a gap created by an empty dental socket), so your orthodontic treatment can lead to your dental prosthesis becoming uncomfortably too small for its position. 

Although the problems created by using Invisalign when you have a fixed dental prosthesis can be significant, these problems are very easy to avoid. All you must do, and your dentist and orthodontist will advise you accordingly, is wait until after you've finished your Invisalign treatment. The final alignment of your teeth will have been achieved, and your smile can now be finished with a dental prosthesis for that missing tooth.

For more information on Invisalign, contact a professional near you.