Replacing Missing Teeth
Your teeth affect your whole body. When they are healthy, you are healthier too. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech, and diet. As you rely more on your remaining teeth, you increase the chance they will wear out prematurely or be damaged or lost. You may also experience headaches and/or jaw pain.
Who would want their appearance and health to deteriorate? That’s the natural consequence of missing teeth. The jaw literally melts away. Generally people will lose 25% of their supporting jawbone structure within the first year after tooth loss. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted, because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news is that implants act just like your natural teeth. They safeguard and preserve your bone structure, oral health, and appearance. Your dentist and the implant surgeon will provide you with options so you can make the most informed decision concerning tooth replacement.
Tooth Replacement Options
You can select from a number of different options to replace your missing teeth, from temporary to long-lasting solutions.
A good candidate is anyone missing one or more teeth or who is unhappy with their dentures. Age is not a factor; however, smoking, diseases (e.g., diabetes), and radiation therapy to the area have been shown to lower the success rate of implant placement. X-rays of your jaw will be taken to evaluate whether they will accommodate implants. Detailed x-rays may also be required to determine if other tests or procedures are needed to place implants properly.
To replace a missing tooth, teeth on either side of the missing area are ground down. This requires removing a portion of the protective layer of the tooth. Crowns that are connected to each other are then cemented to the ground-down teeth on either side of the empty area. A crown also fills the empty area. This is referred to as a “fixed bridge.”
A fragile, temporary, and inexpensive solution is a removable plastic tooth with a plastic retainer, often called a “flipper.”
A less fragile option is a removable partial denture cast in metal and plastic. It is held in place by wire clips. Now there are also removable partial dentures that are made of flexible plastic. A removable partial denture can be removed and reinserted when required by the patient.
The most common solution for people missing all teeth in one or both jaws are complete dentures. Some people adapt well to dentures; however, others find them uncomfortable, bulky, and difficult to wear due to lack of retention and stability, which are compromised by bone loss.
Dental implants are the most comfortable and permanent solution. They form a strong foundation for teeth and keep the jaw healthy and strong. Implants can support individual replacement teeth or secure specialized dentures in place. Unlike bridges, no healthy teeth are damaged. Unlike most bridges, implants can last a lifetime. Implant-supported replacement teeth can be attractive, stable, and comfortable for almost any patient.
Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?
There are several reasons. A dental bridge can sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge the space of the missing tooth. In addition, removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient. Dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.