Which Comes First, The Implants Or The Braces?

For many people who need orthodontic help, obtaining that perfect smile involves more than just one dental procedure. People who are missing one or more teeth are often advised to get dental implants, artificial teeth that look nearly identical to natural teeth. Dental implants are permanently installed in the mouth and are treated just like natural teeth are in terms of dental care. However, dental implants don't correct problems with teeth alignment like crooked teeth. Misaligned teeth are usually best corrected with braces. When a person needs both replacement teeth and teeth straightening, the orthodontist will recommend a specific order for these procedures. Read on to find out which comes first, the implants or the braces. 

When Braces Come First

In most cases, braces should come before dental implants. Natural teeth are shifted - sometimes dramatically so - when braces are applied. Dental implants are set firmly into place using a metal framework made of stainless steel, titanium, or other metal alloys. 

Since these super-strong metals placed into the jawbone, they are not easily moved, and in fact should not be moved once the implants are installed. Having the braces first allows for proper positioning of the teeth, and the creation of a good environment for the dental implants once the braces are removed. 

When Dental Implants Come First

While rare, there are a couple of situations that may call for placement of dental implants prior to teeth straightening. These include:

  • When the Braces Don't Impact Implant Placement: If the braces are going to be placed in an area that doesn't touch the implants, it is usually fine to have the implants done first. One example: If a patient needs braces only on their top teeth, and a dental implant on a bottom tooth. In a case like this, the braces would have not be shifting the dental implant or the teeth surrounding it. 
  • When the Implants are Anchor Teeth: In some cases, missing teeth are essential to the overall mouth structure. For example, if two of the front teeth are missing, those teeth can typically be replaced with implants prior to teeth straightening. Front teeth serve as anchors that the other teeth will adjust to. They are such a central part of the mouth that they are unlikely to shift during the straightening of the other teeth.

If you are ready for a new smile but aren't sure which procedure to tackle first, talk to your dentist about which of the above circumstances apply to you. Whether it's braces or implants first, you can soon be well on your way to a stunning new smile.