Living with one or more missing teeth can be a pain, both socially and physically.
Socially, you may be embarrassed by your smile and reluctant to show it. Physically, missing teeth on one side can lead you to chew more on the other side. That causes more stress and wear on those teeth. The teeth above or below the missing teeth tend to grow longer, which can lead to problems with your bite.
There’s another physical issue that a lot of people don’t know about. When a tooth is lost, the bone which had supported it begins to deteriorate. That’s due to a lack of stimulation from the missing tooth root or roots that transfer the pressure of chewing.
That deterioration is a natural process, but it can give you an unnatural appearance. As the bone thins, it can change the shape of your face on that side and give you a sunken-in appearance. That can make you look older than you are.
Dental Bridges: A Good, but “Stop-Gap” Solution
A decades-old solution to the problems caused by missing teeth is a dental bridge. A bridge restores your ability to chew and fixes the appearance problems caused by missing teeth. In other words, bridges “fill the gap” where your missing tooth or teeth used to be.
Dental bridges do nothing to address the loss of underlying bone. Bridges are supported by the neighboring teeth, which have dental crowns placed over them. When you chew using a bridge, the pressure is transferred to the neighboring teeth, not to the bone. The bone loss will continue.
Dental bridges are durable, but they have a limited lifespan. Typically, a bridge will last between 10 and 12 years before needing to be replaced. Some last longer. One of the things that causes a bridge to fail is decay in the neighboring teeth that support the bridge.
Still, dental bridges are a good solution for many people who are missing teeth. For many other people, dental implants are a better answer.
Dental Implants: Your Preferred Solution
Dental implants have really taken off in popularity as more and more people learn of the advantages of implants over bridges.
Unlike dental bridges, dental implants aren’t supported by neighboring teeth. The implant itself, a small metal screw usually made of a titanium metal, is inserted through the gum and into the underlying bone. The implant basically replaces the missing tooth root and transfers the pressure of chewing on the crown, or replacement tooth, that is placed onto the implant.
Dental implants stimulate the bone and can actually make it stronger over time. They’re the closest you can come to your natural teeth and restore almost 100 percent of your chewing power.
Dental implants are very strong and durable. The implant itself should last for your lifetime, and the restoration that is placed onto it can easily last 15 years or more with care. Replacing an implant restoration is a relatively easy and completely painless process.
Not Just for Single-Tooth Replacement
One implant can support a single replacement tooth. Two implants can support a dental bridge without having to alter the neighboring teeth. Four or six implants can firmly support an entire “arch” of dentures; that keeps the dentures from moving around in your mouth or popping out unexpectedly.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
There are several things to take into consideration when it comes to dental implants.
The first consideration is the thickness of the underlying bone. The bone has to be thick enough and strong enough to handle the enormous pressure of chewing.
If not, there are still options. One is to have bone grafting to strengthen the bone and make it ready to accept one or more implants. Bone grafting adds additional time and expense to the implant process.
The other option is one or more mini-implant. These implants are even smaller than traditional implants which means that they can be used with thinner bone.
The second consideration is the health of your mouth. Your gums help stabilize your teeth and also serve as a barrier against infection from the bacteria in the mouth. If there is active gum disease, that will have to be addressed first. If your gums have receded to the point where they won’t support the implant enough, there are surgical procedures available to help add gum tissue.
The third consideration is your overall health. If you have poor wound healing due to diabetes or another condition; if you’re taking immunosuppressant drugs; or if you’re taking blood thinners, those conditions will need to be addressed.
One advantage to choosing Duffield Dentistry is that the entire implant process, from placing the implant to loading the restoration, takes place in our office. Some dentists handle only the restoration process, referring you out to an oral surgeon for the implants. When you choose Duffield Dentistry, you’ll be working with the same great team of caring professionals the whole way.
Start your journey to replacing your lost teeth by calling our Royal Oak, MI office at (248) 721-4502 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lawrence Duffield or Dr. Anantpreet Grewal. If you prefer, you can use the online contact form to leave us a message.One of our staff will get back to you as soon as possible.
When you arrive for your consultation, our dentists will perform an examination and take digital images to evaluate your suitability for implants. They’ll go over the different dental implant options for you and create a treatment plan to get the process started.
Don’t live with missing teeth any longer. Dental implants are the closest thing to your own teeth and may be a great solution for you.