Tooth loss isn’t the end of a beautiful smile.
Tooth loss can be a difficult process to overcome for many individuals, especially when the missing tooth or teeth are easily visible when they smile or speak. But tooth loss doesn’t mean an end to loving your smile.
Epidemiological studies show that over 178 million Americans have at least one missing tooth, with 30% of individuals between 65 and 74 years of age having no natural teeth left. Missing teeth also tops the list of reasons why people hate smiling or feel self-conscious when speaking with others. While those statistics seem rather glum, the good news is, with missing teeth being a common obstacle in many people’s lives, advancements in the dental industry mean smile restoration is more achievable than ever before.
Let’s take a look at some popular options for smile restoration focusing on tooth replacement.
Options for Restoring Your Smile After Tooth Loss
Tooth replacement options can be broken down into four main categories: implants, bridges, dentures, and implant-supported dentures. All are time-tested tooth replacements, but certain factors may make one a better choice for you over another.
Dental implants are considered the most permanent tooth replacement option and, under most circumstances, the most highly recommended.
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth. This treatment involves a surgical-grade titanium post being inserted into the jaw. After this heals, a permanent foundation will be sculpted and your dentist will place a crown over it to finish. The end result is an extremely natural-looking tooth that behaves just like a normal tooth would.
The biggest advantages of dental implants are how realistic they look and feel. They can last your lifetime with proper care, plus maintenance is super simple as they can be treated like a normal tooth. Implants also maintain your jaw bone health. The only downside to implants is the expense of getting them.
In the event of multiple missing teeth, porcelain bridges are a common solution for smile makeovers.
Porcelain bridges are considered to be semi-permanent and typically last up to a decade or more with proper care. The purpose of a bridge is to fill the gap made by missing teeth by anchoring a “bridge” between the closest existing teeth on either side of the space. Porcelain is a highly durable material and your bridge will be custom sculpted to match your smile as best as possible.
The advantages of bridges revolve around affordability and how quickly you can fix the issue of multiple missing teeth. The downsides include their semi-permanent nature, the extra care required when cleaning around them, and bone loss in the jaw as there is no tooth root to stimulate the bone.
Dentures and partial dentures are classic smile fixes, and though they are not permanent fixes like implants, they’re still a great choice for some.
Dentures and partials are made of the same synthetic materials. They are lightweight, totally removable, and can be very lifelike when quality materials are used and the pieces fit properly.
The advantages of dentures and partial dentures are that they are a less expensive but still beautiful fix. Dentures are also a less stressful and super-fast fix in cases where someone has lost all their natural teeth but they aren’t able to undergo implant surgery. The disadvantages include loss of bone integrity, special care needs, and risks of rubbing or discomfort from improperly fitting dentures.
Implant-supported dentures are a fantastic cross between dental implants and traditional dentures that can be a perfect option for older patients looking for the best of both worlds.
Implant-supported dentures are a full smile replacement solution that uses the same titanium implant posts as standard dental implants do. Custom dentures are then fitted to the patient’s mouth and attached to the implant posts. The results are extremely comfortable and stable dentures that don’t need adhesives.
The advantages of implant-supported dentures are similar to standard implants in that the posts help keep the existing bone structure in the jaw healthy. Chewing and speaking are also much easier as the dentures are physically unable to shift or move. The disadvantages are similar to dentures when it comes to them needing special daily care.
Ask your dentist which option is best for you.
The only way to know for certain which smile restoration treatment options are best for you is to speak with your dentist and ask questions.
Here are some general questions that you might want to ask your dentist:
- What smile restoration options do you offer and what are their pros and cons?
- Do I have enough bone to make me a candidate for dental implants or implant-supported dentures?
- What are the average costs of these smile restoration treatment options?
- Do these treatment options require any special care after I get them?
- How long does the process of getting dental implants take from start to finish?
- Are there any risks to getting dental implants?
Having an open, candid conversation with your dentist will help you determine whether you’re a candidate for dental implants, and if not, what other options are available for you. Your dentist will keep your best interests at heart when helping you make a decision. If you’re unsure about what to do, don’t be afraid to go home and think about it some more.
Preventing Future Tooth Loss with Proactive Care
While you’re in the process of a smile makeover, it’s important to keep up taking care of your teeth as best as you can to prevent future tooth loss.
Be sure you continue seeing your dentist at least every six months and keep up on professional cleanings biannually for your existing teeth. If a problem does arise, such as tooth decay, complete treatment as quickly as possible. You can even look into financial assistance through CreditCare if your finances are an obstacle in seeking help.
Consider tooth loss a temporary hitch in your journey to a beautiful, bright smile you can feel confident about. When you’re ready to restore your smile, make an appointment with Great Miami Dental Associates in Middletown, OH, to see how Dr. Lang can help you on your way.