Replacing a Front Tooth
When a front tooth is missing, there are usually two treatment options. The preferred method of tooth replacement is an implant-supported crown. The other option is a traditional tooth-supported bridge.
When a tooth-supported bridge is used to replace a missing tooth, the adjacent natural teeth are cut down into peg shapes in order to fit the cemented bridge in place. This compromises the long-term health of those teeth and dentists are reluctant to grind down healthy teeth.
A tooth-supported bridge can be very esthetic and functional for a period of time. However, since the bridge does not replace the bone that previously surrounded the root, the bone deteriorates, or melts away.
There are many advantages to replacing a front tooth with an implant-supported crown:
- It looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth.
- It preserves the bone, preventing a visible defect
- It is not necessary to grind down the adjacent natural teeth.
- It is much more esthetic long term.
- It does not decay.
- It is more hygienic (easier to clean) than a bridge.
Replacing Back Teeth
When back teeth are missing, there are basically three treatment options: a traditional tooth-supported bridge, a removable partial denture and an implant-supported bridge. The preferred treatment option is the implant-supported bridge.
In order to place a tooth-supported bridge, there must be at least one tooth on either side of the missing teeth. These adjacent teeth are cut down to fit and cement the bridge in place, which compromises the long-term health of the natural teeth.
A removable prosthesis, such as a partial denture, actually accelerates the bone resorption (deterioration) process that occurs naturally when teeth are lost or removed. In addition, the clasps that hold the partial denture in place put significant pressure on the natural teeth they hook onto, loosening them and in many cases, eventually leading to the loss of those teeth.
The advantages of replacing back teeth with an implant-supported bridge include the following:
- It looks, feels and functions like natural teeth.
- It virtually stops the bone resorption (deterioration) process.
- It is much more comfortable and stable than partial dentures.
- Natural biting and chewing capacity is restored.
- The integrity of the facial structures is preserved.
- The health of adjacent natural teeth is not compromised.
Replacing All of the Teeth
Before dental implants, anyone missing all of their teeth had only one option: dentures. This prosthesis has several disadvantages, including:
- Dentures are uncomfortable and often painful.
- Dentures do not look natural when eating.
- As the bone deteriorates under the dentures, they become loose.
- People without teeth and the supporting bone age visibly much more than people with their teeth.
- Wearing dentures can undermine self-confidence
- Dentures prevent people from eating certain foods, such as apples, steak, or corn on the cob.
- People with dentures generally have bad breath.
These problems can be solved with implant-supported replacement teeth, which preserve the bone and maintain the integrity of the facial structures. Since the replacement teeth are securely attached to the implants, they are much more stable than dentures.
Some of the most significant advantages of complete tooth replacement with dental implants include the following:
- They are much more comfortable and stable than dentures.
- The bone resorption (deterioration) process is halted.
- The integrity of the facial structures is maintained.
- Overall facial appearance is generally improved.
- The roof of the mouth does not need to be covered in order to replace upper teeth, so it is possible to taste food.
- Relines and repairs are needed infrequently compared to dentures.
- A person’s natural biting and chewing capacity is restored.