Replacing Missing Teeth

Your teeth affect your whole body. When they’re healthy, you’re healthier too. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech and eating choices. As you rely more on your remaining teeth, you increase the chance they will wear out prematurely, or be damaged or lost. You may also experience headaches and/or jaw pain.

Who would want their appearance and health to deteriorate? That’s the natural consequence of missing teeth – the jaw literally melts away. Generally, people will lose 25% of their supporting jawbone structure within the first year after tooth loss. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news? Implants act just like your natural teeth. They safeguard and preserve your bone structure, oral health and appearance. Your dentist and the implant surgeon will provide you with options so that you can make the most informed decision concerning tooth replacement.

Tooth Replacement Options

You can select from a number of different options to replace your missing teeth – from temporary to long-lasting solutions.
A good candidate is anyone missing one or more teeth, or who is unhappy with their dentures. Age is not a factor. However, smoking, diseases such as diabetes, and radiation therapy to the area, have been shown to lower the success rate of implant placement. X-rays of your jaw will be taken to evaluate whether they will accommodate implants. Detailed x-rays may also be required to determine if other tests or procedures are needed to place implants properly.

An example of a dental fixed bridge

Fixed Bridge

A fixed bridge is a connected set of replacement teeth. For support, it is cemented into position on top of the teeth adjacent to the empty space. The protective outer layer of these teeth is usually removed or ground down prior to attaching the bridge.

A depiction of a sturdy partial denture cast in metal and plastic

Metal Partial

A less fragile option is a removable partial denture cast in metal and plastic. It is held in place by wire clips. A removable partial denture can be removed and reinserted when required by the patient.

A representation of a full denture for the entire lower jaw

Denture

The most common solution, for people missing all teeth in one or both jaws are complete dentures. Some people adapt well to dentures. Others find them uncomfortable, even intolerable, because of differences in jaw size and shape.

A visual of a permanent dental implant to replace missing teeth

Dental Implants

Dental implants are the most comfortable and permanent solution. They form a strong foundation for teeth and keep the jaw healthy and strong. Implants support individual replacement teeth or secure specialized dentures in place. Unlike bridges, no healthy teeth are damaged. Unlike most bridges, implants can last a lifetime. Implant-supported replacement teeth can be attractive, stable, and comfortable for almost any patient.

Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?

There are several reasons: A dental bridge will sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge the space of the missing tooth/teeth. Dental implants do not attach to or sacrifice surrounding teeth. In addition, removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient, not to mention dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing. Dentures attached to dental implants are more comfortable and secure. The ADA now recommends that a dental implant be used to replace single teeth as the first treatment option when appropriate.  They also recommend using dental implants to support, stabilize or replace a removable prosthesis.  With an extensive working knowledge of the many dental implant systems during his 30 years of dental practice, Dr. Pickle can help with most any dental implant situation you have in your mouth.

One of the benefits of dental implants is retrievability of the crown or prosthesis because it is screwed into place.  Even though dental implant therapy may be a larger investment at first, it is usually very cost effective in the long-term because of the ease of maintenance and repairs, and also using existing implants in future restorations instead of starting from scratch.

Implants are made of titanium, so they will never decay or need root canals like natural teeth. Decay and infections in old dental work are the main reasons that traditional restorations fail over a lifetime.