Injuries, tooth decay, and gum disease result in the average American losing 12 permanent teeth by age 50. If left unreplaced, the result can lead to health issues like damage to the jaw bone and gums. Knowing all of your options after tooth loss can help you make an informed decision on how to replace missing teeth and upgrade your smile.
Your options to replace a lost tooth include bridges and implants, and there are a few types of each. In some cases, dentures are a third option, although they are not always ideal. The good news is with the right dental team and knowledge of your options, the replacement tooth or teeth can be even better than the original.
Dental implants tend to be the first choice for replacing a single tooth. The way an implant works requires a few steps. First, your dentist will assess how much bone is in the place where your implant will be placed. If there is not enough bone to support an implant, your dentist can augment it with bone or a bone-like substance. CT scans may be necessary to learn more about the shape and amount of bone available. Your dentist may be able to make a digital model of your jaw prior to actual placement to optimize the accuracy.
Next, a titanium screw is embedded near your jaw, mimicking the root of your natural tooth. A cap is placed into the screw, which looks like a small stud. Your gums will heal around the screw, firmly anchoring it in place. From there, your dentist will remove the cap, replace it with a post, and secure your beautiful crown in place, so that it matches the surrounding teeth.
Mini Dental Implants
Mini dental implants are a great new option for permanent tooth replacement. The process for mini dental implants is very similar to their larger counterparts, but involves a less invasive procedure, shorter healing time, and less discomfort. Smaller titanium posts are also used to mimic the root of a natural tooth, and typically require less office time than the larger version. This option also requires less bone to attach securely in place, so there is typically no need for bone grafts. Convenience is another advantage of mini dental implants, since you can return to normal activities more quickly than other tooth replacement options. Like all dental implants, they feel similar to your own teeth once the process is complete. And, with no bone loss, there is no need to worry about more severe conditions like facial collapse. These advantages arguably make mini dental implants a perfect solution for those who have lost multiple teeth, as well as those who simply want a more natural-looking solution.
Unlike dentures, the implants stay secure, so you do not have to worry about them slipping or feeling awkward. However, they can be used to realign and improve existing dentures. If you wear dentures, your dentist can place the mini dental implants, allow them to integrate into the bone, then attach the dentures directly onto the implants. If you are experiencing slippage with your dentures, adding mini dental implants may be the right answer for you.
A bridge consists of artificial teeth fused to a metal frame, and is often used to replace multiple teeth. The three different varieties of bridges include traditional, cantilever, and Maryland bonded.
To set a traditional bridge in place, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are filed down and capped, which helps to hold the replacements in place. Conversely, the cantilever bridge requires the dentist to prepare and cap only one tooth to secure the replacement. With the Maryland bonded bridge, metal wings are utilized to secure the false tooth.
Like most tooth loss options, bridges come with pros and cons. While they offer a quicker process for tooth replacement, they can also place strain on the surrounding teeth, and typically need to be replaced. In some cases, the underlying bone loss will still need to be addressed too, since bridges cannot fix this problem on their own.
There tends to be a negative stigma surrounding dentures, and as a result, many patients opt for implants and bridges. However, dentures are still a viable solution for those who need them. Removable partial dentures are a type of restoration that is less expensive than others, but they could have some negative impacts in the long term. Eating and speech can be impacted, and the bone underneath could deteriorate, which could change the appearance of your face and smile. Another type of denture is the removable complete denture. People who wear these are impacted similarly to those who wear partial dentures. However, some complain that long-term use of dentures can actually lower your quality of life, with the constant hassle of having to remove them for cleaning, and avoiding foods that are difficult to eat.
Talk to your dentist in Little Rock about your options after tooth loss. Consider the long-term impact of each option, and what choice will allow you to continue living life without worrying about your teeth. Weigh the pros and cons of each option, especially over the long term.
When to Act
When you lose a tooth, you should find a dentist as soon as possible. For a professional dentist in Little Rock, contact the caring team at Arkansas Family Dental. We treat every patient like family, and we want to work with you to create a dental plan that is to fit your needs and budget. Contact us today, or schedule an appointment to meet our caring and professional team.