3 Ways to Replace Missing Teeth
Missing teeth are a common source of frustration and embarrassment. If you have one or more missing teeth, you are not alone. A recent survey done by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research concluded that Adults age 20-64 have an average of 3 missing teeth. Although this number has substantially decreased in the last 30 years, there are still a large number of adults that are still looking for affordable treatment options.
At our East Brunswick Dental Office, we have restored hundreds of smiles using a variety of different techniques and materials. In this article we will review the three most common tooth replacement options:
1.) Dental Implants
2.) Fixed Bridges
3.) Partial or Full Dentures
Please keep in mind that each person and each case is different so what may work for one person may not necessarily work for someone else. The best way to come to a decision about which option is right for you must take into account the patient’s overall dental health, bone structure, medical history, and, most importantly, the patient’s long term needs and expectations.
What will happen if I do nothing?
A missing tooth that isn’t replaced is not only unattractive, but it can gradually cause shifting of the surrounding teeth and change the structure of your jaw. Over time, this can affect your bite, gums, and your ability to chew and speak properly. In cases where there are multiple missing teeth or no teeth, your face will begin to take on a sunken appearance in that area due to gradual resorption of the jaw bone.
If you are interested in getting a tooth replaced we have some good news. Our East Brunswick office is running a summer promotion. We are giving $500 off any tooth replacement option you choose. This offer expires July 31st, 2017 so grab your coupon now!
A dental implant is a replacement tooth that consists of a tiny titanium post that is embedded into your jawbone and held beneath your gum line. This titanium post usually replaces the root of your missing tooth. This step requires a small surgery, where a specialist (usually an oral surgeon or periodontist) surgically places the titanium root into the desired position in your jaw.
Usually, a few months are required to allow the implant to “integrate” or fuse with your bone so it is strong enough before a tooth replacement can be connected to it. A crown, bridge, or denture will later be attached to the implant to create a new, functioning tooth.
There are many reasons why dental implants are often thought of as the best option when it comes to tooth replacement:
- Does not require any preparation or drilling of your surrounding teeth as with a bridge
- Very strong, a more permanent solution than other options
- Preserves bone in the area
- Less frequent maintenance and replacement is required vs a bridge or denture
- Higher short-term cost vs a denture or a fixed bridge
- Longer Treatment Time. May take 6 months to 1 year in total from start to finish.
- Lower success rate in Smokers, patients with a complex medical history
The immediate cost of an implant is higher than other options and may turn some patients away. However, when looking at the long-term cost over 10 or 20 years the cost for an implant may actually end up being less than other options such as a bridge due to less frequent need for replacement.
A bridge is a restoration that fills the empty space that remains after a tooth is lost. Dental bridges are used to restore chewing function and improve your appearance by filling the empty space left by a missing tooth. A fixed bridge is designed using two or more teeth in front and behind the space as “anchors” that are used as support to secure an artificial tooth in the middle in place of the missing tooth. Fixed bridges can also be fabricated using two or more dental implants, if natural teeth are not present in the area.
- Lower cost than implants
- Is fixed/cemented in place, does not require removal at night like a denture
- A good option in cases where a patient is not a candidate for an implant due to insufficient bone or medical contraindications.
- More predictable esthetics compared to an implant
- Shorter treatment time compared to an implant
- It is necessary to prepare or drill the adjacent natural teeth in order to allow for the bridge to fit over of them.
- More frequent maintenance and replacement vs an implant.
- Cleaning of the bridge is more involved because it is not possible to floss normally since the bridge is fused at the top, so floss threaders or a proxybrush are required to clean the area .
Full and Partial Dentures
Dentures are prosthetic devices that replace missing teeth. They can be made from acrylic, plastic, or metal, and they restore your ability to smile, eat, and speak again with confidence. For increased stability, we can incorporate dental implants with attachments to hold your dentures securely in place. This procedure is called an implant supported dentures.
- Lower cost than implants or a fixed bridge
- Can restore multiple missing teeth with no change in cost where as an implant or a fixed bridge increases in cost with each tooth that is replaced.
- A more immediate solution than an implant
- Can utilize a combination of implants with a denture for increased stability
- Limited chewing ability as compared to an implant or bridge
- Some cases may require use of denture adhesive (ex. Fixodent) to “hold” the denture more tightly against the gums.
- Not as stable as an implant or bridge
- May require modification of surrounding gums or teeth in some cases
Lower partials and dentures are more difficult to get accustomed to for most people vs an upper due to a difference in anatomy and musculature between the top and bottom jaw. The recommended solution to improve stability in this case is to consider implant-supported attachments to the denture.
Whatever the current state of your oral health, we welcome the opportunity to show you the difference that attention to detail and considerate care can make. Our East Brunswick office is running a summer promotion. We are giving $500 off any tooth replacement option you choose. This offer expires August 31st, 2017 so grab your coupon now!