Tooth loss isn’t the end of the world – thanks to modern restorative dentistry there are many ways to repair damage done. Dental implants, bridges and dentures are the most common options if you have lost a tooth or teeth – but how much do you really know about them and how do you choose between them?
Permanent and fixed, dental implants are usually made of titanium and shaped like a small post that takes the place of your old dental root. They are surgically fixed to the jawbone and are topped with a fixing that allows a false tooth to be attached to the top. Dental implants are simple to look after as they behave much like your other teeth do.
Dental implants are easy to care for and will give you confidence as they are fixed in place and don’t move. This kind of restorative dentistry helps avoid the embarrassment of a gappy smile and can improve your appearance – you’ll feel able to smile again and your mouth and jaw will look, feel and function as normal.
Dental implants are fixed in place with minor oral surgery. Although this is quick and straightforward it has the same risks as for any other procedure, such as pain and infection. As they are the longest lasting option, dental implants can also be the most expensive.
Bridges used to be the only option if you had missing teeth. They work by using adjacent teeth to secure a bridge across the gap with a replacement tooth. In contrast to dental implants they rely on the surrounding teeth for success – implants simply replace the missing tooth and don’t fix to anything on either side.
A bridge is used to fill the gap so that you can chew and speak as you did before the tooth loss. It will help to avoid changes to face structure as a result of bone loss triggered by missing teeth and is fixed in place so that it can’t move.
Bridges don’t work if the teeth on either side aren’t strong enough to support them. If teeth deteriorate over time then the bridge can collapse.
Dentures are a removable option for dealing with tooth loss, either as a complete set of dentures – where all teeth are missing – or a partial set if there are still some teeth in the mouth.
Modern dentures don’t just allow you to chew but are also comfortable to wear, they support bone structure, are a cost effective option and they look good too. Dentures are designed for minimal slippage to avoid interrupting talking, chewing or biting function. They are versatile and can be designed to suit your mouth. Dentures can also be supported by implants for a non-removable option.
Dentures must be removed regularly and cleaned to avoid problems with infections, halitosis and disease. If they are poor quality or badly made they may be uncomfortable and can move around or slip. It’s essential that dentures are properly made and well fitted by an experienced dentist.