If you would like to replace a missing tooth, your dentist has probably explained that your choices some down to a dental bridge, a removable partial denture, or single implants. Each option has different pros and cons.
Dental bridges explained
A dental bridge is a common treatment for filling the gap left by the loss of a tooth; it can be used to replace several teeth missing in one area of the mouth, but add too many teeth to a bridge and it may become weak and unstable.
To attach a dental bridge, we need to reshape the healthy teeth on either side of the gap, so that we can fit a dental crown that’s attached to the false tooth on either side. As the name suggests, a dental bridge ‘bridges’ the gap with a prosthetic replacement tooth.
The downside of a dental crown is that we do have to damage perfectly healthy teeth, which can then become more vulnerable to decay and future damage. This can lead to more dental interventions later on. Also, a dental bridge doesn’t address the issue of replacing the missing root within the jaw bone, which can lead to bone loss further down the line.
While a dental bridge is a good option, you should think carefully about whether you are happy to have a restoration that affects your neighbouring teeth.
Partial dentures explained
A partial denture is a plate with one or more false teeth on it. Plates can be very small, just fitting around the area of the missing tooth, or larger to cover your upper or lower jaw – it depends how many teeth we need to replace.
Partial dentures tend to be made from plastic or a mixture of plastic and metal. They may have clasps or clips to keep them in place in your mouth.
While dentures fill the gap left by a missing tooth and look incredibly realistic, you may find that the clasps show when you smile. A common complaint with dentures is that people don’t feel confident about them staying in place; you may also have to change your diet to eat foods that don’t put stress on your partial dentures. Modern materials and techniques mean that dentures are stronger, more comfortable fit better than ever before.
Another thing to consider is that you may still experience some bone loss at the site of the missing tooth as there is no root – natural or artificial – for the jaw bone to strengthen around. This can affect the fit of your partial denture in the future, and you may need to replace the prosthetic every few years.
We fit a lot of single implants at our Derby dental practice. A dental implant is a strong titanium post that is placed directly into your jaw bone where your natural tooth’s root would once have been. A process called osseointegration gradually happens – this is when the bone strengthens around and bonds to the implant, creating a sturdy anchor that’s almost as strong as a natural root and tooth.
Dental implants have several advantages over the other options for replacing missing teeth. One benefit is that, when fitting single implants, we don’t need to touch the healthy teeth on either side of the gap.
Also, as the prosthetic tooth sits right against your gum line, the restoration is hard to spot and will look like a natural tooth.
Single implants – or, indeed, multiple dental implants – can help to protect your mouth from future bone loss, which can occur when a tooth’s root is no longer present. By protecting your jaw bone, in a way that we can’t with dental bridges and partial dentures, we can also protect your underlying facial structure, bite and speech in the long-term.
It’s also fair to say that single implants are easier to keep clean than dental bridges. With a single implant, you should be able to brush and floss in the same way as you would a natural tooth. A good oral hygiene regime can help to protect you from gum disease and the wider health problems associated it, such as heart problems, strokes and even certain types of cancer.
With the right care, dental implants have the potential to last years’ longer than other restoration, even a lifetime.
Weighing up the costs and benefits
We find that one of the biggest barriers to people even asking about single implants is the perception that they are too expensive. You may be pleasantly surprised, however.
It’s important to remember that, although a single implant may cost more than other restorations initially, over its lifetime it may be the most cost effective option. Dental bridges and partial dentures tend to need replacing far more frequently.
As we have seen, dental implants can also help prevent the need for future dental interventions, whereas dental bridges and partial dentures may contribute to the dental cycle of damage, repair, damage, replace.
We’ve certainly found that if our dental implant patients attend their regular check-ups and hygienist appointments after their treatment, their dental health tends to remain very stable.
Ultimately, it is important to replace a missing tooth. Not only will your smile look better, but the restoration should also give your bite stability and make sure all your teeth are meeting in the right place when you chew without having to compensate for the gap.
In turn, this should help to prevent food from getting stuck between your teeth and protect them from future decay and tooth loss.
If you would like to find out more about single implants in Derby at Raynesway Dental Centre, please call us on 01332 75 77 55 to book an appointment.