Replacing Missing Teeth
Teeth affect one’s entire body and well-being. When one’s teeth are healthy, one is healthier overall, too. A missing tooth (or teeth) can affect the bite, speech and eating choices. As one begins to rely more on the remaining teeth, the likelihood increases that these teeth will be damaged by the greater stress they will be subjected to, potentially deteriorating prematurely, or even being lost. Headaches and/or jaw pain may also be experienced as a result of missing teeth.
The natural consequence of missing teeth is that the jaw gradually resorbs away or atrophies. Within the first year following tooth loss, 25% of the supporting jawbone structure is generally lost, and one’s appearance and health may begin to deteriorate. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted as bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The encouraging news is that implants function like natural teeth in that they safeguard and preserve bone structure, oral health and appearance. Your Dentist and Dr. Özcan can provide you with options so that the most informed decision can be made regarding tooth replacement.
Tooth Replacement Options
A number of different options can be considered to replace missing teeth – from temporary to long-lasting solutions.
A good candidate is anyone missing one or more teeth, or who is unhappy with their current dentures. Age is generally not a factor. However, smoking, diseases such as diabetes, and a history of radiation therapy to the area, have been shown to lower the success rate of implant placement, and may even preclude the ability to place implants. X-rays of the jaws would be indicated to evaluate whether implants could be considered. More detailed x-rays may also be needed to determine if other tests or procedures are required to place implants properly.
A fixed bridge is a connected set of replacement teeth. For support, the bridge is cemented into position on top of the teeth adjacent to the empty space. The protective outer layer of these supporting teeth is reduced (ground down) prior to attaching the bridge, to maintain the proper contours of the teeth.
A fragile, temporary and inexpensive solution to replace a missing tooth, is through fabrication of a removable plastic tooth attached to a plastic retainer, commonly called a “flipper”.
A less fragile option to replace missing teeth is through fabrication of 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.
For those who are missing all of their teeth in one or both jaws, complete dentures are commonly fabricated. Some adapt well to dentures, while many find them uncomfortable, even intolerable, because of the limitations they pose when jaw bones have resorbed (atrophied) due to the passage of time following tooth loss.
Dental implants are the most comfortable and permanent solution to replace missing teeth, providing a solid foundation for them while also helping to maintain a strong and healthy jaw. Implants support individual replacement teeth or secure specialized dentures in place. Unlike bridges, healthy teeth on either side of the missing teeth do not have to be prepared (contoured) to support them. Implants can also often last a lifetime, unlike most bridges which require replacement over time. Implant-supported replacement teeth are very stable replacement teeth, as well as being esthetically pleasing and comfortable for almost any patient.
Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?
There are several reasons to consider dental implants over other available options to replace missing teeth. A dental bridge requires sacrificing the outer structure of the teeth beside the space, in order to support the “bridge” spanning the space of the missing tooth/teeth. In addition, removing a partial or complete denture(s) at night in order to keep the underlying oral tissue healthy, may be inconvenient. Dentures may also be uncomfortable and slip as support for them is more challenging. This can also be an unfortunate source of embarrassment should this occur in a social situation.