Never thought you’d need dental implants? You’re at a baseball game, and it’s a home run! You stretch out your arm, eager to catch the ball as it soars toward the stands. Crack! The ball smacks you right in the jaw, and you now have missing teeth.
Perhaps your reason for needing to replace a tooth is not as dramatic, but when it comes to what to do about a missing tooth, there are a variety of options to consider. Getting your missing tooth replaced is important to prevent a dramatic change not only in your smile but to prevent crowding and a change in bite that may lead to gum disease and tooth decay. In this article, we’ll go over those options and then discover why dental implants offer the best option for many people.
What Are My Options?
There are a number of options when it comes to what to do about a missing tooth. Each patient’s case is different, so consult with your doctor to see what kind of replacement to go with. Keep in mind what options are covered by your insurance. It is always best to do as much research as you can before you visit your dentist, so you can be comfortable with what options they might have available to you.
A removable denture is a denture that can be easily taken out of the mouth for cleaning. Partial dentures only replace a select number of teeth, while full dentures can replace a whole jaw’s worth of teeth.
Partial dentures have replacement teeth attached to a plastic base that matches the color of the gums. The plastic often houses a metal framework. The denture may also have a clasp to affix the denture to the teeth.
Like all dentures, they may feel tight or awkward at first, but you should get used to it over time. However, many dentures must be work 24 hours a day and be removed only for cleaning. Be careful of biting down or trying to force a denture into place. And, as you age, your jaw and mouth will naturally change. And your denture may no longer work as well as it first did. You may have to replace or get it adjusted, often taking multiple visits and repairs.
Dentures are generally the least expensive option but come with a lot of downsides, including needing to be replaced and possibly irritating the mouth while often not resembling natural teeth. They can also break or become lost, and are often less stable than other choices
A resin-bonded bridge, or Maryland Bridge, is an option for replacing missing front teeth, that don’t endure the strong forces that back, chewing teeth endure. This bridge has two wings on each side that attach to healthy teeth adjacent to the missing one and does not require preparing the teeth by grinding down the healthy teeth.
A resin-bonded bridge looks and functions better than a removable denture, but isn’t as strong as a fixed bridge and doesn’t last as long as dental implants.
Why Should I Choose Dental Implants?
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, several missing teeth, or a full set of dentures. Implants are simply titanium posts that are surgically placed in the upper and lower jaw, where they function a lot like a natural tooth’s root. They anchor the replacement teeth, and titanium is a metal that is friendly to your body, so no adverse effects can occur.
Because of the need to surgically implant the root, patients need to be in good health and have adequate bone to support it.
There are generally three phases of treatment. First, the implant is placed in the jawbone. You may experience some swelling and tenderness, so your dentist may prescribe pain medication. A diet of soft foods is generally recommended after surgery.
Next, you will have to let the area heal. What makes implants such an excellent option is that the bone actually grows around the implant, securing it in place like a natural tooth. This process takes time, but it means that your implant will last far longer than any alternative.
Finally, the custom-made replacement is made and fit on the implant posts. Because these custom replacements can take some time to make, you may receive a temporary crown, bridge or denture.
Implants are the best option for replacing a missing tooth because they are most similar to natural teeth, last decades, don’t involve ruining nearby teeth, and help prevent bone loss.
Talk with your doctor to see what option is right for you.