Alternatives to dental implants?

Senior Suffering Tooth Loss Dental Implant

Is tooth loss inevitable? If you lose a natural tooth, is a dental implant the right choice for replacing it? There are a lot of questions surrounding tooth loss, many of them surrounding the best methods of rebuilding your smile afterwards. Are there alternatives to dental implants that will work as well?

Tooth loss as an adult may feel embarrassing and isolating, but you are hardly alone. In fact, recent studies estimate that there are over 175 million American adults that are missing at least one tooth. And approximately 35 million of those are missing all their teeth.*

Unlike in years past, adults affected by tooth loss are not limited to one form of restoration. Though dentures continue to be a popular form of restorative dental treatment, dental implants are now considered one of the most secure and beautiful ways to complete a smile after tooth loss.

If I don’t get a dental implant, what are the alternatives

Dentures and dental bridges are time-honored methods of restoring the vacant spots in your smile. As effective as they are, though, these traditional options only replace the visible parts of your teeth. Dental implants are surgically inserted into your jaw. They help complete your tooth restoration by serving as your tooth root’s replacement.

What if I choose not to replace my lost teeth?

The gap(s) that one or more missing teeth can leave in your smile can motivate most people to seek options for replacement. Nevertheless, there are those who are not bothered by the loss at all, and would prefer to just ignore it. If you choose not to replace missing teeth, however, the rest of your oral health may suffer the consequences.

Tooth loss can be a troubling experience for adults. Not only can an incomplete smile make it more difficult to chew comfortably, but it can create insecurity while smiling, as well. Over time, though, the side effects brought on my booth loss can be even more bothersome. Your remaining teeth can shift as they try to take up the slack left by their fallen comrades. If healthy teeth shift from their proper placement, they are at a much higher risk for dangerous dental diseases and can throw your bite even further out of balance. Over time, untreated tooth loss can lead to jawbone deterioration and further tooth loss.

What Causes Tooth Loss?

The causes of tooth loss can vary. Gum disease is one of the most common causes, as infected gums can cause teeth to loosen and eventually fall out. But general decay, trauma to a tooth, and oral cancer can also cause tooth loss. The cause of the tooth loss will affect your initial treatment, as restoring oral health is vital to preserving your remaining teeth.

Tooth Loss Requires Quick Prosthetic Treatment

When you have lost a tooth, it is important to schedule a dental appointment as quickly as possible. Prompt completion of the smile is one of the best ways to preserve your remaining teeth’s alignment, but it can also be essential to preventing additional tooth loss. If gum disease was the cause of your tooth loss, for instance, the condition will only worsen with time, often leading to the loss of additional teeth. Treatment like periodontal therapy, can help restore the gums’ health and protect your remaining teeth. Just as importantly, a prosthetic tooth replacement can help preserve your smile for years to come.

Restorative treatment options that are alternatives to dental implants

After your oral health has been restored, there are three treatment popular treatment options.

Removable partial or full dentures

There are many types of replacement teeth available. Dentures, both partial and full, are commonly used when teeth or a tooth is extracted. Removable partial dentures can be made to connect to your remaining teeth, or to dental implants. If they are connected to teeth with clasps, they may still shift over time, and can cause remaining teeth to loosen.

Though removable dentures continue to remain one of the most widely used treatment options, they are not the most stable, which is why many patients find them uncomfortable. It can even be difficult to enjoy your favorite foods. Especially if your complete dentures do not fit properly, or if they move during mealtimes. If you have lost all of your natural teeth, stability can be recreated by using dental implants to support the denture.

Dental bridges are great alternatives to dental implants

Dental bridges offer more stability. They span the open space and attach to the neighboring teeth. There are several types of bridges and they all can create a natural-looking restoration.

Dental implants

In many cases, dental implants offer the best solution for tooth loss. Dental implants offer the most secure form of tooth replacement option. They are the only option that replaces both your missing tooth and its root. A titanium post is used to simulate the root, which helps keep your jaw in good health. A crown, pontic (fake tooth) or denture can be used to complete your smile esthetically. The replacement teeth help to thoroughly protect your current smile’s alignment.

Dental implants are often the most expensive form of restoration. They also take the longest to complete. The titanium post must be surgically inserted and then heal completely before the replacement tooth can be attached. Still, many patients find them worth the cost and the time. This is because of how confidently they can smile and eat once treatment is completed. They also prevent bone loss at the  location where the tooth or teeth were removed.

Talk to Your Dentist About Getting Dental Implants or the Alternatives

Porcelain bridges are one popular way of completing a smile after tooth loss. That is because a fixed bridge offers added security, when compared to an unsupported denture. Bridges are anchored by crowns affixed to remaining teeth, helping to add stability while one chews.

Talk to your dentist about the best solution for completing your own smile.

*Statistics from by the American College of Prosthodontists.