Did you know an estimated 69% of adults ages 35-44 have lost a minimum of one tooth to either injury, decay, or gum disease? Moreover, by age 74, 26% of adults have lost all of their permanent teeth.
Stability – An implant base mimics the root of a tooth within the jaw bone and gum. This allows implants to fit more naturally and securely, functioning similarly to natural teeth.
Replace Many or All Teeth – Dentures are only a viable treatment option when many or all teeth are missing.
Contribute to Bone Loss – Because dentures only rest on the gums, the jaw bone does not receive necessary stimulation and will deteriorate with time.
Many patients experience the loss of a single tooth due to injury, decay, or gum disease. Standard treatments for single tooth replacements include use of a removable partial denture, a fixed partial denture (bridge), or a dental implant. All of these options have their merits; however, implants are generally considered the most successful.
Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures are units in which replacement teeth sit on a base of gum-colored plastic, held together by a metal support structure. The partial is then attached to the gum line with a series of metal clasps. After placement, many patients express displeasure with the bulky denture and the metal aesthetic.
Fixed Partial Denture or Three Unit Bridge
Dental Implants for Single Missing Teeth
Today, dental implants are considered the best option for most single tooth replacements. They are the most natural treatment as they mirror the lost tooth and root. The titanium implant integrates into the existing bone and tissue in a process called osseointegration. The bond formed by this process is exceptionally strong and secure, allowing the implant to function like a natural tooth. The implant supports surrounding bone and tissue, enabling normal chewing and speaking and preserving the health of remaining teeth, gum, and bone. Implants offer a more permanent solution, although the crown of an implant may need to be replaced with extended use.
Caring for and maintaining your implant is like that of any other tooth; it requires daily brushing and flossing as well as dental check-ups twice a year. With basic hygiene, your implant can offer a lifetime of natural feeling teeth without impact your chewing or speaking.
Modern dentistry now views dental implants as the standard of care for replacing multiple teeth, particularly when they are in a row. Implants play a crucial role in preventing bone loss and preserving facial structure. Former treatments, such as dentures, not only failed to address these concerns, but in fact led to complications.
Dental Implants vs. Traditional Dental Bridge
Dental bridges allow the jaw bone to deteriorate because they do not stimulate the bone, whereas the roots of dental implants provide stimulation, protecting the jaw bone and supporting existing facial structure and shape. Because the titanium is compatible with the body, it is able to integrate into the jaw bone for a stronger replacement, increasing the permanency and longevity of the implant. Additionally, because the implant cannot be removed without of surgery, complications such as looseness or slipping are eliminated, allowing for normal eating and speaking.
Restoring Your Smile
Many factors contribute to the placement of implants in multiple teeth replacements. The first approach your doctor will consider is to place an implant at the site of each lost tooth. Such implants would be permanent replacements and act as your natural teeth. Not all patients qualify for implants at all sites of tooth loss. If too much bone loss has occurred, bone grafting may be necessary to create sufficient bone mass to hold the dental implant.
Regular dentures rest on top of your gums, causing bone deterioration and leaving space that can cause complications such as loose fit, slipping, or clicking sounds.
When fitting bar-retained dentures, three or more dental implants are placed into the jaw bone. Metal bars then run along the gum line between each of the implants. The denture rests on the bars, attaching with metal clips. This structure secures the denture’s placement without the need for the steel studs used in ball-retained dentures. Many patients have opted for this alternative as it eliminates the rubbing, loosening, and discomfort associated with traditional removable dentures.
Ball-retained dentures, also called stud-attached dentures, function with a ball and socket mechanism. The denture base has several sockets that line up with balls placed on dental implants in the jaw bone. The balls and sockets fit together for an extremely secure fit, allowing for an open palate denture. Ball and socket attachment is even less likely to slip or move, restoring the patient’s ability to eat and speak regularly.
Recent technology has made it possible for almost anyone to qualify for dental implants. Missing teeth can diminish your quality of life by making it difficult to enjoy your favorite foods or speak clearly.
Implants can often improve or even replace existing dental work for a more effective and complete treatment.
Depending on how long your teeth have been missing, a certainly degree of bone loss will have occurred. Bone grafting may be required to rebuild the bone for successful implant placement.
You should discuss any existing medical conditions and medications with your doctor. Generally, if you are healthy enough for regular dental work, you should be equally as fit for implants.
If untreated, gum disease can impact the success of dental implants. Moderate to severe gum disease may need to be treated separately before implantation.
Smoking can limit the success of your dental implants as well as cause overall risks to your oral health. Discuss your smoking habits with your doctor.