Your teeth are an amazing asset.
They are some of the strongest bones in the human body, they can endure the pressure of chewing, withstand drastic changes in temperature (especially this past winter) – and teeth can do this for decades. However, teeth are not always indestructible. There are many factors that can lead to tooth loss. In February’s blog, we discussed gum disease, which affects more than 50% of adults in America and can result in tooth loss. Other causes include the effects of osteoporosis, decay and cracking/breaking. The reality is that despite even our best efforts, sometimes we lose teeth.
Dr. Sandy Murad is a general dentist with 1st Family Dental, and provides all of the treatment options listed below. We have divided your options for tooth replacement into three categories: Implant Dentistry, Removable Dentures and Fixed Bridges.
Your Options for Tooth Replacement
Why replace missing teeth? The human face was designed with teeth in mind. Teeth help maintain healthy bone structure in the face and jaw. Strong bone structure helps you to be able to keep your natural teeth and maintains the shape of your face which helps to retain a more youthful appearance. Healthy bone structure also allows you to crunch on nutritious vegetables, fruits, nuts and other healthy foods.
Dental implants are the closest possible option for actual tooth replacement. We will be reviewing dental implants in depth in our next clinical blog. Dental implants are usually completed in three steps:
1. Implant Placement: The dentist places the implant surgically in the upper or lower jaw. A “healing cap” is placed over the implant to protect it. Sometimes, bone grafting may be required either before or during implant placement.
2. Healing: Implants are so strong because the bone in the jaw actually grows around the implant, anchoring it into place andaccepting it as a part of the bone.
3. Tooth Replacement: The dentist will have a custom crown, bridge or denture made to fit your mouth and implants.
Advantages of Dental Implants as an Option for Tooth Replacement:
Durability: Successful implants that are properly maintained are designed to last for the rest of your life.
Fit & Feel: Dental implants are the most similar to a natural tooth.Â When fixed to dentures and bridges, they can improve the fit and feel tremendously, as well as your confidence. Most people can’t tell the difference between an implant and their natural teeth.
Bone Strength: Because implants are fused to the bone just like natural teeth, the risk of bone loss is lowest, which is essential for the health of the rest of your teeth, as well as your whole body.
Impact on Other Teeth: Crowns, bridges and partial dentures are fixed to the actual implant, and will not affect your natural teeth, which can help your smile last a lifetime!
Potential Disadvantages of Dental Implants:
Not Everyone Can Have Implants: A successful implant depends on healthy and sufficient bone to support and anchor the implant for life. Â Your dentist will complete a thorough examination and evaluation, including x-rays, to determine if implants may be an option.
Healing Time: Implants can take time to heal, and patients may need to live
Immediate Affordability: Over time, dental implants have proven their value as the longest-lasting investment. However, the immediate expense for dental implants and the crown, bridge or denture is higher than fixed bridges and removable dentures.
Removable Full or Partial Dentures
These options for tooth replacement can be helpful for people who are missing several or even all teeth. Full and partial dentures are designed to be worn every day and removed at night. They are designed to sit over the gums and around any existing teeth.
Dentures are created by taking an impression of the gums and any existing teeth and taking careful measurements. The impressions are fabricated by a dental lab. At 1st Family Dental, we encourage folks who are having dentures made to bring in a friend or loved one during a try-in to help make sure the look of the denture is as natural as possible.
Advantages of Full or Partial Dentures:
Repair: Dentures are typically easier to repair than a fixed bridge.
Maintenance: Dentures are easier to clean and maintain than a fixed bridge. Regular visits to the dentist for exams, x-rays and adjustments are required to ensure the denture fits properly and to monitor bone health.
Affordability: Dentures typically cost less than some fixed bridges or dental implants. However, over time the cost of repair or replacement can accumulate.
Potential Disadvantages of Dentures:
Durability: Because dentures are removable, there is a greater chance that they may be lost, broken, or even eaten by the dog. Dentures may need to be relined, or even replaced.
Potential Bone Loss: While bone health and density for everyone is different, a denture can help slow bone loss, but is not as effective as an implant.
Fit & Feel: Dentures can also be hard to get used to, and can even be uncomfortable at first and require several follow up visits to adjust the fit of the denture. Speaking and saying certain sounds may be difficult at first, and chewing can also be challenging. It can take practice and patience to get used to a denture.
Another of your options for tooth replacement is a bridge which consists of a fabricated tooth or teeth (called a â€œponticâ€) that fills the space where one or more teeth have been lost, and is anchored in place on either side by crowns (also known as “caps”) placed over existing teeth that have been “prepared” to accept the crowns.
Advantages of Fixed Bridges:
Durability: With proper care and maintenance, fixed bridges can last a long time, often longer than removable dentures.
Look & Feel: bridges often have a more natural look and feel than removable dentures. There is also typically less adjustment to a bridge.
Affordability: Fixed Bridges typically cost less than dental implants. However, the cost of maintaining and repairing a bridge may accumulate over time.
Potential Disadvantages of Dental Bridges:
Maintenance: Bridges require extra care and maintenance, including cleaning under the pontic. Folks who have fixed bridges still need to visit the dentist for regular exams to ensure the structure of the bridge is intact, and also to keep an eye on the anchoring teeth.
Durability: While more durable than removable dentures, fixed bridges should be treated with care. It is important to avoid chewing on very hard, sticky or crunchy foods where the bridge is located. Repairing or replacing bridges can become costly over time.
Impact of teeth next to the bridge: Preparing a tooth means shaving it down, which impacts the overall structure and health of the tooth. This can also cause pain and discomfort. This also means there may be a greater chance that problems may arise with the prepared teeth in the future.
Do you have questions or comments about your options for tooth replacement? Feel free to email us at: comment below or contact any of our convenient locations. Stay tuned for an in-depth look at Implant Dentistry at 1st Family Dental, including some real-life stories and accounts by some of our implant patients.