Implants, dentures and bridges are options for those of you with a missing tooth or teeth. Here we’ll explain the differences so that you and your dentist may choose the best option for you.
Dentures have a number of advantages. They’re fast, they’re one of the least expensive methods of tooth replacement, and they look and feel just like real teeth. However, they also have drawbacks. They’re not permanent, and will likely need to be replaced every few years. They continually need to be refitted, and if they don’t fit properly, they can cause infection. Finally, in many cases, dentures partially cover the upper palate in your mouth. This can make it more difficult for you to taste and smell your food.
Dentures are a removable set of prosthetics to replace missing teeth. The saliva in your mouth helps to create suction which holds them in place. However, they should still be removed every night and cleaned.
When we think of dentures, we most commonly think of what’s known as Complete Dentures: a full set of false teeth. However, you can also get partial dentures, to extend across a gap in your mouth and replace just a few teeth that are missing.
Before your existing teeth are removed, your dentist will create a model of your jaws, with which to make your new teeth. These will be ready as soon as the teeth are removed, and are called immediate dentures. Once your jaws have had a chance to heal and adapt, though, you’ll be fitted for a permanent set of teeth called conventional dentures.
Similar to partial dentures, bridges replace one or a few missing teeth. However, while partial dentures are removable, bridges are a permanent fixture in your mouth. How they are installed depends on where your missing teeth are and the state of your surrounding teeth. In some cases, they can also be combined with dental implants.
Like dentures, bridges are faster and cheaper than implants, and can be installed permanently, without bone grafting. They’re a great option if you still have healthy teeth left. However, to install them often requires filing down healthy teeth and putting crowns over them, which can cause damage. And while they’ll typically last longer than dentures, they still don’t last as long as implants. Plus, unlike implants, they don’t correct the bone loss that occurs in the jaw when teeth are missing.
Dental implants are the longest lasting tooth replacement option. A titanium root replaces the root of the missing tooth and anchors directly into your gums. If several teeth are missing in a row, a bridge implant can be created, with an anchor tooth on each side and a bridge between them.
While the crowns on top of the teeth may need replacing every 10 to 15 years, the implants themselves are designed to last a lifetime. And care for them is just like with real teeth. Brush and floss regularly, and get semi-annual checkups. Dental implants feel like real teeth, as well. While dentures and bridges feel real in your mouth, chewing is never quite the same. With dental implants, however, you can eat normally, just as you would with real teeth.
There are a few drawbacks, though. First, they’re by far the most expensive option. However, in the long run, they can actually save you money, since they don’t bring with them the replacement costs that other options do. Installation is also a long process, taking multiple visits over several months. First, any damaged teeth need to be removed. Then the site needs to be prepared, before the anchor can go in. Then the bone needs to grow around the anchor, before the tooth can finally be installed.
Finally, you need to meet the requirements before you can be a candidate for dental implants. The main one being, there needs to be enough bone still present for the implant to anchor to. If you have bone loss, your mouth might not be able to take a dental implant. You also need to be in good physical health in order to undergo the surgery.
Which option is right for you? Talk to your dentist and see how you can best replace your teeth and restore your smile. Contact us at River Town Dental to learn more!