Once you lose a tooth, there is a critical need to replace it. Replacing a missing tooth ensures that your surrounding teeth stay healthy and aligned. It also means that you don’t lose dental function (chewing, speaking, etc). What you may not know is that you have two primary options when it comes to replacing a single tooth: a dental bridge and a dental implant.
In order to make the best choice for particular needs and goals, it is important to first understand what each of these restorative options involve.
Dental implants have a remarkable success rate. In fact, they work just like they should in over 98% of patients who get them. However, that doesn’t mean that implant failure doesn’t occur. There are certain situations, habits and even medications that can threaten your dental implant’s ability to fuse to the jawbone and provide a long-term anchor for your prosthetic tooth or teeth. Fortunately, you’ll find that these risk factors are largely within your control so it is important to educate yourself before your implant procedure.
Dental implants are by far the most superior solution in tooth replacement. Not only do they look, feel and function like real teeth, but they are a permanent restorative solution. Dental implants are said to last a lifetime! However, there are a few things you should know about that statement. First, dental implants, just like your real teeth, require proper care. They are not totally indestructible. Second, your dental implant involves two components: the titanium implant itself and the implant restoration that is placed on top (prosthetic tooth or teeth). Only one of these parts can last forever.
The implant that is inserted into your jawbone during a minor oral surgery is made of strong, biocompatible titanium. It fuses to your jawbone over a period of several weeks and can serve as a permanent artificial tooth root for your prosthetic tooth or teeth. The implant is designed to last a lifetime as long as the surrounding gum and jawbone are cared for. The implant itself won’t decay or corrode and it can’t withstand everyday dental function with ease.
While it is easy to convince someone to replace a front missing tooth, it often requires more effort to help them understand why a back molar needs a replacement with a dental implant. To be clear, this refers to the second molars and excludes the wisdom teeth, as the wisdom teeth are typically removed during late teens and don’t serve real functional benefit in the mouth. However, patients who have a second molar missing or extracted commonly ask if it is really necessary to replace it? Here’s a closer look at that answer.
Is it a Lower or Upper Molar?
It can make a difference whether you are missing an upper second molar or a lower one. If it is a lower molar, the answer is almost always “yes – you need to replace it.” These set of back molars are your primary chewing teeth, and they are directly in line with the main chewing muscle called the masseter. If you are missing that lower molar, the corresponding upper molar may begin to “over erupt” out of the socket in an effort to make contact with its long lost partner.
According to HealthLine, bone grafting is a “transplanting of bone tissue that is beneficial in fixing bones that are damaged from trauma, or problem joints. It’s also useful for growing bone around an implanted device.” Since its discovery, bone grafting has revolutionized and opened new possibilities for many areas of the medical field. When it comes to dentistry, bone grafting is a key procedure that makes dental implants possible for a notable number of patients who would otherwise not qualify for this unrivaled solution in teeth replacement.
When it comes to replacing a missing tooth, there is simply no better solution than a dental implant. If you have lost one of your natural teeth, you may be wondering if you qualify for this superior restorative treatment. The good news is that most people are good candidates for implant dentistry.
While only a professional evaluation can confirm your candidacy for dental implants, your chances are looking very good if the following applies to you:
Have you put off replacing a missing tooth? One of the primary consequences of not replacing a missing tooth in a timely manner is the shifting of adjacent teeth. In other words, the neighboring teeth on either side of the missing tooth will naturally drift towards the open gap over time. This can be problematic if you want a dental implant but there is limited space for it to fit. Don’t worry; it doesn’t mean you can’t get a dental implant and regain a stable and natural-looking tooth. You just may need to undergo orthodontic treatment prior to implant placement.
While modern dental implants, such as the All-on-4 implant system, have drastically streamlined the process, most patients who undergo traditional implant placement will experience three separate procedure steps. These may be broken up into 2 to 3 appointments depending on the type of implant you choose as well as your specific clinical needs.
To understand the 3-step process of getting dental implants, it is best to first learn about the three basic components of a dental implant. Working from the bottom to the top, there is the implant itself, the abutment and an implant restoration (artificial tooth).
Not everyone has a complete smile of natural teeth. Many people have a combination of real teeth and dental implants. So what does that mean for teeth whitening? Can you still whiten your smile if you have prosthetic teeth next to natural teeth?
While prosthetic teeth can look and function much the same as natural teeth, they are not made from the same substances. Therefore, crowns, bridges and partials that are supported by dental implants will not react the same way to teeth whitening as your natural teeth.
Traditional whitening treatments do not work on porcelain or bonding materials, which means you can not lighten their color like you do your real teeth. Once the color has been established, it is there to stay. Color matching, however, can be precise and customized to meet your goals before the fake tooth or teeth is placed in your mouth.
A normal adult mouth consists of 32 teeth. Unfortunately, these teeth don’t always stay in place. Whether due to severe infection, decay, accidental trauma or other factors, teeth can go missing. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, “More than 35 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 178 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth.”
The good news is that there are restorative dentistry options that can replace missing teeth, whether you have a single missing tooth or a full mouth of missing teeth. Dental implants top the list when it comes to replacement options. Since dental implants are a notable investment and they require an oral surgery, many people shy away from this option and may avoid replacing their missing teeth altogether. This can be a bigger mistake than patients realize, as we need our full set of teeth for a number of reasons.