Did you know that only 48% of adults aged 20-64 have all of their permanent teeth? It’s all too easy for us to take our teeth for granted until something happens and we lose one (or more!) of them. Losing a tooth comes with a host of complications. Obviously, it limits your chewing capabilities and can affect how you speak. But it can change your facial structure, resulting in premature facial aging. And if you leave the gap open, your other teeth will naturally shift to fill the space, creating alignment problems and an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay. The impact of a missing tooth on your smile also comes with a loss of confidence and in some cases can lead to serious cases of depression.
Luckily there are many options for replacing a missing tooth. Whether you need to replace a single tooth or are in need of a whole new set of teeth, we will find an option that works best for you.
A dental implant is considered a top of the line option if you need to replace a tooth. Implants are made from titanium, which is an incredibly strong metal often used in many different kinds of medical devices, including artificial joints. Dental implants require a patient to undergo a surgical procedure using either local or general anesthesia, depending on the health of the patient. During the procedure, an implant is placed directly into the jawbone. These titanium implants serve as replacements for the tooth root. Once the dental implant is placed into the bone, the surgeon will cover it with gum tissue and allow it to heal for several months. This is to make sure it becomes integrated into the jawbone. Once your jawbone has healed, a post is attached to the implant and a crown is added to the post.
There are many benefits for those that get dental implants. They look and feel like a natural tooth. No one can tell if you’ve had a dental implant unless you tell them! They are great as a single tooth replacement option or can be done to replace many teeth. Because they are inserted directly into the bone, they’re incredibly strong. Another benefit is that they do not affect the adjacent teeth in any way. As any dentist will tell you, the more of your natural teeth you can keep, the better. Most importantly, dental implants have a 95% success rate, they are incredibly durable and a permanent, long-term solution to a missing tooth.
The number one drawback to dental implants is that they are very expensive and may cost upwards of $2,000 per implant. The dental implant itself is not a tooth replacement, it’s a supporting structure that is used to hold an additional component, be it a crown, bridge, or denture. Because of the amount of work involved, the cost can be insurmountable for many people. Also, patients who have issues with their immune system, or other health issues that impede healing may not be a candidate for a dental implant. However, if you qualify and can swing the cost, an implant is the closest replacement option available to getting your natural teeth back.
If you are only missing a few teeth, you may want to consider a bridge. There are two different types of bridges that are popular replacement tooth options. The most popular alternative to the implants described above is a tooth-supported fixed bridge. A tooth-supported bridge is made by turning two healthy existing teeth into abutment teeth on either end with the replacement tooth placed in the middle. The healthy and strong abutment teeth are ground down to enable the crowns to be fitted onto them, and these crowns support the bridge. The replacement teeth in between settle into the empty socket or sockets. The bridge is then cemented into place.
You can also opt for an implant-supported fixed bridge. With an implant-supported bridge, you can take advantage of the strength of dental implants without having to use implants on every single missing tooth. An implant is used on either side as the abutment teeth, and a regular crown is attached to the middle, forming the bridge. Both tooth-supported and implant-supported bridges are excellent options to replace missing teeth. They are very natural looking and easy to care for as you simply brush and floss them as if they were your natural teeth. Both are permanent, so you don’t have to worry about removing them at night. Tooth-supported bridges are the more affordable option, running anywhere from $300-$1,000 to replace a single tooth. They look and feel natural, almost like your real teeth. Implant-supported bridges are more expensive due to the implant procedure, often anywhere between $5,000-$15,000 depending on how many teeth you need to replace. But it is a great choice if you have several missing teeth in a row.
Dentures have been around for a long time. Everyone has heard of George Washington wearing his wooden ones, right? But dentures have come a long way since then, and are probably the most affordable option for replacing missing teeth. Just like a bridge, there are several different types you can choose from.
Probably what comes to mind most often is a set of complete dentures. If you have severe gum disease or have lost all of your teeth due to trauma or injury, a full denture is what you will need. A complete set of dentures sits on top of the gums and can actually look very natural because they come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Wearing full dentures provides support to your facial muscles, restoring your natural jawline. If you are only missing a few teeth, you may opt for removable partial dentures. Partial dentures are often made with an acrylic base that matches the color of your gums. Metal clasps that go over healthy teeth hold your partial denture in place. Both complete dentures and removable partial dentures are good low-cost options for replacing missing teeth, but there are some drawbacks.
Both complete and partials need to be removed every night and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Another thing is that a denture, especially a partial denture, can often be unstable in your mouth and can break very easily. You need to be very careful with the foods you eat when you opt for removable partial dentures. Anything that requires too much chewing can be a problem. You’ll have to make sure you avoid things like carrot sticks, popcorn, corn on the cob and even biting into an apple. However, even with these considerations, dentures are used very easily by many, many people. It’s a very good, low-cost option for teeth replacement.
If the word “unstable” makes you nervous, you could decide to get implant-supported dentures. This gives the denture a solid structure to hold onto, making it much more stable in the mouth. A patient is a good candidate for this type of denture as long as they have strong bone health.
Don’t Despair, Give Us a Call
Losing your teeth may be a scary thing to have happen, but now you know that help is right around the corner. The very first thing to do is consult with your dentist, who will go over all your options. They can also make some recommendations as to your replacement options and refer you to the appropriate health professionals to get the ball rolling. You’ll have that gorgeous smile back in no time!
Each of our offices can provide you with the latest techniques and technology for your every dental need. If you’re looking for a dentist in the greater Minnesota area or around the Twin Cities, contact us today to schedule your appointment!