According to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, by the time you reach your mid-forties, chances are high you’ll have lost at least one permanent tooth in a sports or auto injury or to oral health problems like advanced gum disease or tooth decay. What you choose to do once you’ve lost that tooth depends on a number of factors, including cost, your overall health, and your interest in pursuing tooth replacement. Today, we’re discussing the three most common tooth replacement options and how they might fit into your lifestyle.
No one says you have to do anything if you lose a permanent tooth and many people take this route, especially if the tooth they lost lay in an inconspicuous area in the back of the mouth. While this will certainly save you time and money upfront, a missing tooth begins a cascade that could result in further tooth loss and a progressively worsening oral health situation. For one, an empty space in the dental arch causes the remaining teeth to move, creating overlaps, crowding, and gaps that could lead to misalignment and hard-to-clean areas. Additionally, the jawbone beneath the missing tooth will no longer receive nutrients from the body and will, as a result, begin to atrophy. This could weaken the support structure of neighboring teeth.
For well over two millennia, humans have replaced their missing teeth with dental bridges. While ancient dental bridgework was crafted from gold, today’s bridges boast a more natural-looking aesthetic. Dental bridges are placed by anchoring two support crowns (called abutments) to the teeth neighboring the missing one. The abutments hold a false tooth, usually made from porcelain, between them. Although dental bridges cannot address jaw bone loss issues, they will maintain proper spacing along the dental arch. Bridges can be expensive, running into the thousands of dollars (depending on the type of bridge needed and the materials used) and many patients have concerns regarding the removal of healthy enamel in preparation for placing abutment crowns.
If dentists had their way, nearly all missing teeth would be replaced with dental implants because their innovative design provides the most true-to-life prosthetic option. This device uses a titanium “root” (usually called an implant post) to support a porcelain or zirconia crown. The implant post is surgically inserted and becomes an integrated part of the living jawbone. Dental implant crowns continue to stimulate the jaw, meaning that healthy bone density is maintained. In addition, they maintain good spacing and alignment of the remaining teeth. Furthermore, dental implants do not use abutments and do not require the removal of healthy tooth structures. The one significant drawback of dental implants is their cost, which generally runs somewhat higher than bridgework. However, when cared for properly, dental implants will never need to be replaced, while bridgework will need replacing every 10-15 (or so, depending on the individual).
At Snow Park Dental, Dr. Miller provides the preventive and restorative dental care you need to help you enjoy optimal oral health. Contact us today at (505) 596-4479 to schedule a consultation or appointment at our Albuquerque dentist’s office. We proudly serve families from Rio Rancho, Corrales, Edgewood, Tijeras, Los Lunas, and surrounding communities.
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