Missing teeth aren’t just bad for your oral health; missing teeth make you look like you don’t care about your health or appearance at all! Missing teeth used to only have two treatment options: a bridge, or dentures. Today, Edgewood Dental (in Edgewood, KY) is able to offer a third option: dental implants.
Why Should I Think About Dental Implants?
Simply, dental implants are the best solution for missing teeth. Dental implants are permanent, and are as easy to care for as your natural teeth. They’re discrete as well; no one needs to know that once upon a time, your great looking smile was full of gaps!
How Are Dental Implants Different?
Unlike dental bridges (which are a type of dental restoration, like a crown) or dentures (a prosthetic), dental implants are surgically installed. It’s important to remember that because the procedure is surgical, you must be able to tolerate general anesthesia to receive them (we’ll talk more in later posts about what it takes to be a candidate for dental implants).
Surgery also means that there is a higher upfront cost associated with dental implants, but as we hope to demonstrate in this post, when it comes to your oral health, it’s important to make a distinction between “highest cost” and “highest value”.
Dental implants are an alternative to the conventional solutions for missing teeth: bridges and dentures. Don’t get us wrong: bridges and dentures are still good solutions for missing or lost teeth; every person has different needs and priorities when it comes to their dental health.
Dental implants simply provide a lot of advantages that bridges and dentures can’t, and if you can get them, implants are your best option.
A Bridge Too Far?
Bridges are something most of our patients are familiar with, at least by name. A dental bridge is an artificial tooth (or in some cases, teeth) that is held in place by a support; the teeth on either side of the gap are referred to as “abutment” teeth; the support for the artificial tooth is itself held up by a pair of crowns, one on each side.
While a bridge can reliably stand in for a missing tooth, or even multiple teeth, it does have a couple shortcomings worth noting: when compared to dental implants, bridges don’t last as long, and your vulnerability to infection is much higher with bridges.
Bridges vs. Implants: Lifespan
This is an important part of the “cost vs. value” idea we mentioned earlier. A dental bridge does carry a lower cost than a dental implant, but only at first. Bridges don’t last very long. In a best case scenario (in which the patient has been extremely disciplined in the maintenance and care of their oral health), a dental bridge’s maximum lifespan is seven years. Usually though most people find that a dental bridge will only really go for about five years. This means that every five years or so, you’ll need to replace your dental bridge completely.
Implants, on the other hand, can last decades. It’s not at all unreasonable to expect an implant to be a lifelong solution for a missing tooth (or teeth). An implant will do its job until it doesn’t need to do it anymore. Incredibly, achieving this doesn’t require time-consuming maintenance. Your dental implants only require the same basic care that the rest of your teeth need: twice daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. That’s it!
So, back to “cost vs. value”: if you choose to go with a dental bridge, you’re committing to going back to the dentist for a new bridge every five years, and each time you have to pay for the bridge again. A dental implant goes in once, and it will stay there. Pay once, or pay many times. Eventually, the cost of multiple bridges will exceed the cost of an implant by a great deal.
Bridges vs. Implants: Vulnerability to Infection
Bridges don’t require surgery to place in your mouth; however, the risk of infection is increased. To get the artificial tooth to fit correctly, filing down of the abutment teeth is usually required. It ends up being a considerable loss of your tooth’s surface, specifically the enamel that protects it from infection and damage. Enamel doesn’t grow back, and there isn’t an artificial replacement for it. If your tooth becomes infected, you’ll need endodontic therapy (AKA a root canal) to treat it.
Dental implants don’t have any effect on your natural, remaining teeth other than keeping them in place and looking their best.
When you add up the cost of multiple dental bridges to fix one problem and the risk of infection, the value of a dental implant is much greater than the difference in cost between the two.
Dentures vs. Dental Implants
Dentures are a prosthetic solution for missing teeth. Depending on your specific needs, you can get either partial dentures (for one or a few missing teeth) or full dentures (replacing all teeth).
Dentures cost the least out of all three procedures, but again, the value of a dental implant is superior.
Dentures Slip and Slide
No, that’s not a new sort of water ride for children. It’s a fact: dentures, even those that are fitted properly from the beginning, will start to slip and slide, moving out of place. Dentures are held in place with some help from adhesives, but they actually depend on their fit, and how they interact with your oral tissues and teeth, to keep themselves in the right spot.
Eventually, your dentures will need to be replaced as wear degrades their fit. If you’ve ever spent time with someone wearing dentures, you might have noticed a strange clicking sound as they talk: that’s a sign of dentures that don’t fit (they might have once, but wear or damage has made them come loose). Dentures can even slip out of your mouth entirely: this happens so often in fact that this has become a well-worn joke in movies and television!
Poorly fitting dentures are embarrassing, but they can also be dangerous. That poor fit can raise your risk for infection in your teeth and oral tissues.
So the question rises again: pay a little now and get a lot of hassle, or pay more now to avoid it entirely?
Are Dental Implants Right For Me?
Dental implants aren’t for everyone. Your dentist can help you make the best decision for your situation. If you have missing teeth, you need to get that addressed as soon as possible! It’s not just a matter of keeping up your appearance; your natural teeth can actually start to move out of place when you have gaps.
Don’t delay! Call Edgewood Dental 859-474-7830 today!