Replacing Missing Teeth
Your teeth affect your whole body. When they’re healthy, you’re healthier too. You look and feel better. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech and eating choices. You may also experience headaches and/or jaw pain. As you rely more on your remaining teeth, you increase the chance they will wear out prematurely, or be damaged or lost.
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 and then continue to lose bone throughout life. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news? Implants act just like your natural teeth. They preserve your bone structure, oral health and appearance. Your dentist and the implant surgeon will provide you with options so that 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 such as 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.
Dental implants are the most comfortable and permanent solution. They form a strong foundation for teeth and keep the jaw healthy and strong. Because implants are placed directly in the bone, they stimulate it and help to maintain healthy bone levels. Implants 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. Implant supported teeth or dentures allow you to eat much tougher and chewier food than any other alternative.
A fixed bridge is a connected set of replacement teeth. Teeth on either side of the missing teeth are prepared to support the bridge. It is cemented into position on top of the teeth adjacent to the empty space. The protective outer layer of these teeth is usually removed or ground down prior to attaching the bridge. Unfortunately cutting down the adjacent teeth can lead to these teeth needing root canals. As well, when the bridge fails it is usually due to cavities and can require the removal of another tooth!
A fragile, temporary and inexpensive solution is a removable plastic tooth with a plastic retainer, often called a “flipper”.
Metal Partial Denture
A less fragile option is a removable partial denture cast in metal and plastic. It is held in place by wire clips. A removable partial denture can be removed and reinserted when required by the patient. Unfortunately these removable partials lead to jaw bone loss underneath them. As well removable partials put excessive forces and wear on the teeth that support them leading to early failure.
The most common solution for people missing all teeth in one or both jaws are complete dentures. Some people adapt well to dentures. Others find them uncomfortable, even intolerable, because of differences in jaw size and shape. Unfortunately dentures on their own do not preserve jaw bone. They also change the taste and texture of food and become dislodged easily while eating.
Four reasons to choose dental implants:
- You’ll look and feel great. Dental implants feel, look, fit and function like healthy, natural teeth. They’re so comfortable you don’t have to think about them. You brush and floss them just like you do your natural teeth – no need to remove them for cleaning. They also help you retain your natural face shape and smile.
- They’re built to last. Dental implants that are properly cared for can last many decades. Many other options, including certain types of dental bridges and dentures, may need to be replaced as often as every 5 to 10 years, requiring a more significant investment of time and money.
- You can live life with confidence. Your dental implants will be secure, so they won’t slip or click when you talk, eat or laugh. You’ll also find that your speech is more natural. With dental implants, you’ll have the peace of mind to eat what you love, say what you want to say, be as active as you want and smile broadly.
- They protect facial bone and healthy teeth. Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to health issues such as jawbone deterioration. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that actually helps stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss. Getting dental implants as soon as possible after losing a tooth helps prevent bone loss at the site. Also, dental implants don’t require grinding down adjacent teeth to anchor bridges or attach partial dentures.
Why Select Dental Implants OVer other Options?
There are several reasons to select dental implants over other alternatives:
- A dental bridge can sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge the space of the missing tooth/teeth.
- When bridges fail they often cause one or both supporting teeth to be removed!
- Dental bridges do not help your body maintain your jaw bone
Partial Denture or Denture
- Partial dentures and dentures must be removed for at least 8hrs/day to allow the gum tissue to breath
- Removing a denture or a partial denture at night may be inconvenient
- Dentures often slip and can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing
- Partial dentures and full dentures do not help your body maintain your jaw bone