Teeth contribute to your appearance, speech, and eating. Permanent teeth should serve you for a lifetime, and they have the strength to do so. However, they cannot restore themselves after damage. They are, therefore, susceptible to damage from decay, diseases of the gum, and trauma to the mouth or face.
Dentists use artificial teeth as replacements for your natural teeth. The type of tooth replacement you get depends on your dental needs and preferences.
Ganji Dental offers tooth replacement services to people who have lost teeth to various issues. We focus on educating you about the available options from which you can choose. Our goal is to meet your needs and help you learn how to live with your new teeth.
Overview of Tooth Replacement
According to the American College of Prosthodontics, more than 120 million people have lost at least one tooth. Thirty-six million of these do not have a single tooth. Tooth loss is a common problem caused by:
- Gum disease
- Illnesses such as cancer
- Injury and trauma
- Genetic causes
Smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis also increase the risk of losing a tooth. Other causes, such as decay and cavities, increase due to poor dental hygiene practices.
Each tooth in your mouth holds an important position. Apart from chewing, teeth support each other, enhance your smile and appearance, and help you with speaking. Without a single tooth, your mouth will realign, which alters your facial appearance, bite, and stability of your jaw.
Losing your teeth exposes you to several consequences, including:
- Difficulties and discomfort when chewing
- Shifting of teeth around the mouth, ligaments hold down the teeth; therefore, when one tooth is missing, the other teeth shift around to fill the void left. As the teeth shift, the bone also loses its density.
- Difficulties in speech due to tooth loss as well as changes in the jawbone
- Jawbone loss, which is one of the worst consequences of tooth loss. The development of the jawbone depends on your use of teeth. Therefore, if you lose teeth, that area of your jaw becomes unused and wastes over time.
- Losing confidence especially if you lose a visible tooth
Replacing your teeth restores the stability of your jawbone and prevents shifting of teeth around the mouth. Tooth replacement also serves a cosmetic role. Teeth are crucial to your smile. The health and presence of teeth give you the confidence to smile. Therefore, you can have lost teeth replaced to restore your self-esteem.
Preventing Tooth Loss
Artificial tooth replacement options cannot replace the strength of natural teeth. You can protect your natural teeth from loss through establishing a healthy dental routine. Some of the things you can do to prevent tooth loss include:
- Brushing twice daily with a fluoride-based toothpaste
- Floss daily
- Rinse with a mouthwash that contains fluoride
- Eat nutritious food rich in fiber
- Visit the dentist for a professional dental cleaning
It is sometimes inevitable that you might lose some teeth. Whether it occurs due to genetics, trauma, or failed dental procedures, you deserve to have them replaced.
Tooth replacement gives you a second chance at enjoying a beautiful smile. You can also be confident among your peers. In some cases, teeth replacements will enhance your appearance. The dentist can create a replacement that fits your dental profile adequately.
Deciding the best tooth replacement is a process that you should never rush through. Contact your dentist and ask for help with choosing a replacement option that suits you adequately.
Several options exist for replacing your teeth. They include implants, dentures, and dental bridges. The option you choose depends on several factors, including:
- The number of teeth you need to replace
- Your oral health
- Your preferences
- The treatment option you can afford
- The position of the missing tooth
- The longevity of the replacement option: if you want a tooth that will last long without needing a replacement, then an implant is an ideal option
- The appearance of the dental replacement tooth: teeth play both a functional and aesthetic role. Therefore, the replacement you choose should be appealing.
- The care needed: different tooth replacement options might need different care practices. Therefore, choose one whose care requirements you can handle.
Dental Replacement Options
Dentists offer several dental replacement options, including dentures, implants, and dental bridges.
1. Dental Implants
Dental implants are a popular tooth replacement option. Their popularity is based on the interaction between implants and the oral health of patients. Dental implants promote the growth of the jawbone, thus restoring the health of the gum and serving as roots for artificial teeth.
Dental implants are also well tolerated by almost every patient. Most dental implants are based on titanium, a biodegradable material that triggers bone growth when inserted. Dental implants are independent when placed in the mouth. They do not require natural teeth like dental bridges. They are also permanent and fixed, which makes them secure, unlike dentures that may fall off. They are, however, more expensive than other options.
A dental implant resembles a screw. It is inserted directly into the jawbone to promote bone growth. Therefore, the dentist must examine your jawbone to determine whether it is thick enough to support an implant.
The success of implant treatment depends on your dental health. Treatments and medication you are currently under can slow down the healing of implants.
Implants are the best choice for you if:
- You have good oral hygiene practices
- Your gum and jaw are in good health
- You have sufficient bone to support the implant
Dentists insert implants through a surgical procedure of three major steps. These steps are preceded by a thorough investigation of your dental health and appropriateness for a dental implant. The dentist then prepares you for the procedure. The preparation could include tooth extraction or a bone graft. Once these processes are complete, the dentist begins the implant insertion procedure.
The first step involves the placement of the implant in the jaw through surgery. The dental implant resembles a screw. Once inserted, the dentist will secure your gum over the implant. Usually, the dentist cleans the area before inserting the implant to prevent the entry of bacteria into the tooth.
The implant will take several months to integrate fully with the jaw and heal. You might experience some swelling, bleeding, and soreness after the procedure. Your dentist will provide you with medication to deal with the pain. You should also eat soft foods that require less chewing to reduce discomfort.
After the Osseointegration, the dentist proceeds to the attachment of a post to the implant. It is a minor surgical procedure where the dentist cuts above the implant to expose it. The post acts as the point of attachment for a new tooth.
The final step involves the attachment of the artificial tooth to the post. The dentist will design a tooth that blends in with your natural teeth in shape, color, and fit. Dental implants are safe, but some complications such as infections, nerve damage, tooth damage, and sinus problems can arise.
Combining smoking with dental implants increases your risk of developing an infection after the insertion of a dental implant.
Dental implants are very durable owing to the strong root. They also bond with the jaw making them the closest thing to natural teeth. However, they also require good care to prolong their longevity and effectiveness. Here are some care tips:
- Avoid smoking immediately after the surgery to prevent infections
- Maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine that includes regularly brushing your teeth and attending dentist’s visits
- Visiting the dentist regularly so that he or she can evaluate the condition of your implants and provide you with the right advice
Dentures are a traditional and customized dental replacement option. Dentures are removable teeth that can be either partial or complete. Partial dentures are those that replace several missing teeth as opposed to complete dentures that replace all the natural teeth.
Partial dentures are teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base. The denture is fitted with a metal framework to provide additional support on the jaw. You might also need to use adhesives to keep dentures in place.
Complete dentures can be either conventional or immediate. Complete conventional dentures require your jaw to heal for about 12 weeks before they are placed. Immediate dentures are pre-made and inserted as soon as the natural teeth are removed.
Immediate dentures are usually a temporary solution while the dentist prepares conventional dentures. The process of preparing dentures takes several weeks. It includes:
- Taking impressions of your jaw including the relationships between your jaws and the space between them which helps the dentist create teeth that match your mouth
- Creating models and patterns that match the final denture. The dentist will use these models to determine whether they are the proper fit for you
- Once the dentist finds the model that fits you adequately, he or she will cast the final denture
- In some cases, the dentist might need to make several adjustments to ensure that the denture fits properly
It takes time to get used to dentures. However, with a little practice and consistency, you will get used to the dentures within a few weeks. During the first few weeks, you might experience some discomfort. You can take several steps while adjusting, such as:
- Avoiding very hot or cold foods
- Cutting food into tiny pieces for ease when chewing
- Making soft meals to reduce the pressure on your dentures
- Avoiding sticky foods
- Avoiding the use of toothpicks
- Chewing slowly from both sides of the mouth
Once you get used to your dentures, you can start introducing harder foods. You might also have to practice saying some words to get used to speaking with dentures. Sometimes, you might have to use adhesives to keep dentures to enhance their stability in the mouth.
However, you need to talk to a dentist before applying adhesives. Continuous use of adhesives can affect the fit of your dentures, necessitating their continuous adjustment.
Dentures are an inexpensive and easy to repair dental replacement option. However, they are not as stable as implants or dentures. They are also more prone to damage and loss. Dentures can also be uncomfortable and embarrassing to take out for cleaning.
While dentures are not long-lasting, you can take several measures to increase their longevity, including:
- Removing them before sleeping
- Removing the dentures after eating and rinsing them with water to remove food debris
- Submerging the dentures in warm water to keep them from drying out (hot water will warp the dentures)
- Cleaning the mouth with a soft brush after removing the dentures
- Do not use a denture cleaning solution inside your mouth. Also, rinse the dentures thoroughly before replacing them in your mouth if you use a denture cleaning solution
- Brushing the dentures at least once a day with a soft brush and a denture cleaner
- Schedule regular dental checkups so that your dentist can identify any issues and deal with them promptly
- Avoid bleaching agents and whitening products
- Avoid using hard and abrasive materials to avoid damaging the dentures
Dentures might sometimes need repair due to fractures and breakages. Dentures might break due to the force of chewing, trauma, or dropping the dentures. In case they are fractured, the dentist might reline or revitalize the denture.
3. Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are artificial teeth held on abutments that are designed to cover the gaps left by missing teeth. Dental bridges consist of at least two crowns on either side of the gap. The number of abutment teeth will depend on the type of dental bridge and the number of teeth you are replacing.
Dental bridges come in four major types from which you can choose. They include:
Maryland dental bridge, which requires that you have two natural teeth on either side of the gap. The dentist will then bond a metal or porcelain framework on the back of the abutment teeth to provide support to the bridge.
Traditional bridges are placed between gaps that have natural teeth on either side. A dentist will hold down a traditional dental bridge using crowns cemented to an abutment.
Cantilever dental bridges are those in which only natural tooth is required next to the gap. A dental crown cemented to one abutment tooth holds down the bridge.
Implant-supported dental bridge: these are the most common and stable dental bridges. They are held down by a dental implant, which serves as the root of the dental bridge. Implant-supported dental bridges must be inserted through surgery.
Dental bridges are an expensive tooth replacement option compared to dentures. However, they are more durable and permanent. The cost of dental bridges also varies depending on several factors such as:
- The size of the gap
- The materials used in making the dental bridge
- The difficulty of placing the dental bridge
- Other treatment that you need before the placement of the dental bridge (such as extraction of damaged teeth or treatment of gum disease)
- The type of dental bridge you choose
In general, you can spend between $1500 and $15,000 on the dental bridge. The cost will increase if you have more teeth to replace. Most health insurance plans cover dental bridges; therefore, you can check yours to determine whether you qualify.
Installing a dental bridge involves several processes, including:
Assessment and Preparation of the Abutment
The first step in the use of dental bridges is the first assessment. Here, the dentist will evaluate your mouth, teeth, and gums to determine whether you are an ideal candidate for dental bridges.
An abutment is the connective tooth used to support the dental bridge. The dentist will prepare an abutment during your first visit. The choice of the abutment to use depends on the number of abutment teeth required to support the bridge. Usually, dentists use existing teeth as the abutment. Factors that influence the selection of a tooth as an abutment include:
- The health of the tooth: if the tooth is not healthy, it must be properly treated
- Teeth that are beyond treatment must be extracted and an artificial abutment made
- The tooth must not be damaged excessively, for example, any damage that reaches the gum
- The tooth must not show signs of bone density loss, excessive mobility or recession
The dentist can choose any tooth to be the abutment. Usually, molars and canines form the strongest dental abutments. Incisors, on the other hand, are the weakest due to the short length of their roots.
Dentists usually evaluate the length and stability of the root of the tooth before using that tooth as an abutment. The dentist calculates the suitability of the tooth as an abutment using an Ante’s rule.
Once the dentist chooses the most appropriate tooth, he or she will reshape or fill the tooth to fit the size of the crown.
Placement of the Temporary Bridge
Preparation of the tooth abutment makes the tooth vulnerable to infections and sensitivity. Temporary dental bridges protect the tooth and allow you to retain your regular routine.
While on the temporary bridge, you must avoid sticky and hard foods to prevent dislodging the bridge.
Temporary dental bridges protect the gum from infection and prevent shifting of the teeth around the mouth. They can also give you an impression of what your while will be like after the permanent bridges are in place.
Placement of the Dental Bridge
The temporary bridge protects your teeth while the dentist prepares the permanent bridge. Once it is ready, he or she will apply a local anesthetic to reduce discomfort. The dentist will remove the temporary bridge and, if necessary, clean the abutment and other teeth.
He or she might then apply dental cement to attach the bridge to the abutment teeth. The dental bridge might need several adjustments to make it fit better.
Once in place, the dentist will inform you about what to expect, caring for your bridges, warning signs, and when to visit the dentist for a follow-up appointment. You might experience some discomfort and sensitivity after the procedure. Therefore, prepare soft meals and cut it up into small chewable pieces.
Dental bridges have a lifespan of about ten years with proper care. However, they are also at an increased risk of falling off due to the decay of the abutment teeth. When food particles become stuck under the dental bridge, they can cause decay to the surrounding gums and teeth. You can prevent such occurrences by establishing a healthy dental care routine of the following care tips:
- Brushing twice every day
- Floss between the teeth and under the bridge daily
- Eat a diet that supports healthy teeth
- Visit a dentist once in six months to have your teeth professionally cleaned
Some damage or deterioration of dental bridges is inevitable. You might need to replace or repair your dental bridges. You might need to replace your dental bridge if:
- The abutment tooth becomes damaged
- The denture is chipped, cracked or falls off
- The material used to cement the bridge falls off
You could choose to replace your dental bridge with an implant or another dental replacement option.
Implants, dental bridges, and dentures have both advantages and disadvantages. They serve the same purpose, but not everyone is an ideal candidate for some of them. When choosing the best replacement option, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each to determine whether you are ready to live with your choices.
Find a Tooth Replacement Dentist Near Me
Tooth replacement is the closest thing to natural teeth that restores your appearance and improves your confidence. You have different options from which to choose. However, not all tooth replacement options are ideal for all situations. If you decide to have your tooth replaced, then contact a dentist for an evaluation.
Ganji Dental is a dentist who provides different tooth replacement services. The dentist advises you on the best option based on your situation and preferences. In addition, we have advanced dental technology to enhance our procedures. Contact us today at 310-643-8045 to help you choose the best tooth-replacement option.