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.* But 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.
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.
Restorative Treatment Options
After your oral health has been restored, your treatment options include fake teeth or partial dentures, porcelain crowns supported by dental bridges that connect to your remaining teeth, or dental implants.
Though 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, if your dentures do not properly fit, or if they move during mealtimes.
Dental bridges offer more stability, by attaching a fake tooth, crown or partial denture to remaining teeth. Some bridges use all porcelain, creating a natural-looking restoration, but some require metal fasteners to secure the replacement tooth or teeth in place. Either option is more secure than dentures, but may still shift over time, and can cause remaining teeth to loosen.
Dental implants offer the most secure form of restorative treatment, because 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. The crown, pontic (fake tooth) or denture can be used to complete your smile esthetically, and helps to thoroughly protect your current smile’s alignment.
Dental implants are often the most expensive form of restoration, and they take the longest to complete, since 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, because of how confidently they can smile and eat once treatment is completed.