Replacing Missing Teeth
What affect does oral health have on overall health?
Your teeth affect your whole body. When they’re healthy, you’re healthier too. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech and eating choices. 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 jaw bone 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? 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 that you can make the most informed decision concerning tooth replacement.
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What are my 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.
A fixed bridge is a connected set of replacement teeth. For support, 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. Typically, a fixed bridge has a shorter long-term life span than replacement of teeth with dental implants. They put the teeth involved at a greater risk for further dental issues.
A fragile, temporary and inexpensive solution is a removable plastic tooth with a plastic retainer, often called a “flipper”. This is often used to temporarily replace a tooth or teeth that is being replaced by dental implants.
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 (RPD) can be removed and reinserted when required by the patient. An RPD can stress out the remaining teeth and make them more susceptible to decay.
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. Dentures do not stop bone loss and need to be replaced over time. Dentures are only 30% as effective as natural teeth!
Dental implants are the most comfortable and permanent solution. They form a strong foundation for teeth and keep the jaw healthy and strong. 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.
Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Restorations?
There are several reasons:
A dental bridge can sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge the space of the missing tooth/teeth. A three unit bridge (two teeth and one missing tooth) has a lower long term prognosis than a single tooth implant. The longer the bridge or the more dentistry that the anchor teeth have, the lower the long term prognosis for the bridge. Since the teeth the bridge connects to is helping to replace missing teeth, it is placing more stress on these teeth, making them more susceptible to fracture. A bridge will also complicate your ability to clean the involved teeth effectively, making the teeth more likely to develop cavities.
A partial denture places addition stress on the anchor teeth and can make the actor teeth more susceptible to decay, bone loss, or fracture. In addition, removing a denture or a “partial” at night can be inconvenient. Dentures are only 30% as effective in chewing function as natural teeth or dental implants. They can be uncomfortable, can affect taste, speech, and can move or come out during function or talking which can be rather embarrassing.
A single tooth implant has a high long term success rate, can not develop decay, and will never require a root canal.