If you are missing a tooth, this is a problem that you shouldn’t hesitate to take care of. There are many disadvantages to having missing teeth, including having trouble eating and speaking properly, an increased risk of gum disease, and a feeling of self-consciousness.
Treatment Options for Missing Teeth
The 3 common treatments to choose from when you are missing teeth are implants, dentures, and bridges.
Dental implants are made of titanium and act like the root of a natural tooth. An implant is placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth, and over time (usually about three months), the jawbone grows around the implant, so that it becomes as secure as a normal tooth. The new tooth is attached to the implant once it is firmly set in the jaw, using a connector called an abutment.
Dentures are another option if you are missing teeth. You can either get partial or complete dentures — partial dentures are used when there are some natural teeth remaining, and complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing. Dentures, which are removable, are made up of replacement teeth that are attached to a plastic base.
Bridges are also another option. A bridge is made up of an artificial tooth (or teeth), suspended between two crowns on either side. Crowns are made out of a ceramic or porcelain material, and they fit over your existing teeth like a cap.
The Advantages of Dental Implants
If you are missing teeth, you no doubt have many questions about these different options, but, to begin with, when it comes to missing teeth, dental implants have many advantages over these other treatments.
1. More natural function: Perhaps the biggest benefit of implants over other treatments is that, because they bond with your bone, over time they start to feel no different than a natural tooth. This means they feel natural, comfortable, and stable even when eating and talking.
2. Little maintenance required: You just brush and floss as you usually would. Dentures, on the other hand, can involve a whole time-consuming process of removing and rinsing them after you eat, soaking them overnight, cleaning your mouth when your dentures are out, all in addition to brushing them. And, when dentures are in your mouth, they need adhesives, which can be messy.
3. Longevity: Implants can last a lifetime. Crowns and bridges may have to be replaced every 10-15 years, and dentures may have to be replaced, on average, every 3 to 8 years. Dentures can also lose teeth and wear down over time.
4. Stability: Dentures can be inconvenient and possibly embarrassing if they move around or slip while you are eating or talking. Dentures can become ill-fitting and loose as a result of natural changes in the mouth that come with age. If a patient continues to wear dentures that don’t fit properly, he or she can develop sore spots in the mouth that can become infected, and can even lead to oral cancer.
5. Keeps other teeth in place: Implants can help keep your mouth healthy. If you opt for an implant, this acts to protect and support the surrounding teeth and keeps them from shifting. With bridges that are supported by other teeth, the natural teeth on the other sides of the bridge have to be filed down and contoured correctly so that the appliance will fit on it correctly. This procedure can make teeth vulnerable to decay, periodontal disease, bacterial plaque accumulations, and even root canals.