A set of teeth is like a new car; shiny and bright in the beginning but often in need of spare or replacement parts as time goes by. Losing a tooth is sometimes unavoidable. In fact, few will make it through life with 32 teeth.
Let’s explore a few teeth replacement options and how they can contribute to your overall dental health.
Causes of tooth loss
There are many causes of tooth loss. Topping the list is tooth decay and gum disease.
Tooth decay occurs when food particles containing carbohydrates (sugar and starches) are left on the teeth for some time. Bacteria that reside in the mouth digest these particles, turning them into acid. This acid damages and causes cavities. On the other hand, gum disease develops when too much plaque settles on the gum line, leading to swelling and reddening of the gum tissue. If not treated early, it tears down the bone that supports the teeth.
Accidents and sports injuries are other causes of teeth loss. Tooth loss can occur due to a fracture or crack in the bone from an accident. According to American Dental Assistants Association, 5 million teeth are lost yearly in the U.S because of sports injuries.
Impact of missing teeth
In some instances, there may be little impact. Depending on where the missing tooth is located, others may not quickly notice a gap in your mouth. Usually, this is the case when the missing tooth is at the side or back of your mouth.
However, your teeth are intended to work together, so losing one or more teeth can, to some extent, impact speech, eating, and other dental problems. It becomes uncomfortable and difficult to chew food. You may find yourself having to chew at a much slower pace or on one side of your mouth. This can affect your facial and jaw muscles.
Missing teeth can also change the outline of your face since it can cause your facial muscles to sag. What’s more, your bite may change to compensate or make up for the lost teeth, and the remaining ones (teeth) might move given the extra room. Unfortunately, this can cause tooth grinding, tooth sensitivity, and difficulty in chewing in the long run.
What are the best options if you lose your teeth?
The quick answer includes implants, bridges, and dentures.
A more detailed answer:
The ideal option for teeth replacement largely depends on the scope of dental work and your smile goals. Dental clinics offer different procedures, and each calls for a different amount of time, work, and expertise, along with a different cost.
Consider the following teeth replacement options:
Dental implants are one of the most preferred options when you wish to replace one or more teeth.
This treatment entails surgically mounting a titanium frame or post into your lower or upper jaw. Then, a replacement tooth is mounted to the implant, which helps the tooth remain in place securely.
While treatment costs may vary depending on various factors, the cost of a single tooth dental implant falls between $3000 and $6000.
Some benefits of dental implants include:
- They are permanent and durable
- They have a 95 percent treatment success rate
- They provide an appealing aesthetic
- They feel comfortable and natural
- They require little maintenance other than cleanings, checkups, and good oral hygiene
- They do not need any modification of the bordering teeth
- They are an excellent tooth replacement method to prevent jawbone loss
Bridges are fixed dental devices that bridge the gap formed by one or more missing teeth. There are three types of bridges – Traditional, Maryland, and Cantilever – but your doctor will help you pick the best option among the three.
A dental bridge gets its support from the nearby healthy teeth on the right or left side of the gap. The teeth that provide support to the bridge are known as abutments, while the ones that cover the gap are called pontics.
The placement of a dental bridge is usually not a surgical procedure; therefore, you will remain awake throughout the treatment. But, if you are uneasy or nervous about the thought of undergoing the treatment, your dentist might offer mild sedation to assist you to relax. Additionally, your dentist will numb the area in question with a local anesthetic by injecting some medication into your gums.
One of the best parts about dental bridges as a treatment option for missing teeth is that the recovery process is minimal. Actually, you can eat normally as soon as the dental bridge has been mounted in your mouth. A large majority of patients have no difficulties adapting to the bridge.
The cost of a dental bridge will depend on several factors, such as the materials needed, the type of bridge chosen, and any dental work required before installing this dental device. When it comes to materials, the charges for an all-porcelain bridge are higher than a porcelain-fused or metal-fused bridge.
Advantages of dental bridges include:
- Feel and look like natural teeth
- Don’t require removal for cleaning
- They are usually cheaper than dental implants
- Last for many years before calling for replacement
- Easy to maintain and can be flossed and brushed just like ordinary teeth
Dentures are a perfect tooth replacement option for people who are missing many of their teeth. A full or complete denture replaces all the missing teeth in either the lower or upper jaw. On the other hand, a removable partial denture is recommended when the patient still has some teeth left.
The procedure for a partial denture consists of replacement teeth being fastened to a natural-looking pink base. Generally, your natural teeth secure the removable plastic base in place. However, some dentures have a tiny clasp that connects to natural teeth.
Although the cost varies, pricing calculators estimate the cost of dentures to range from $1,500-$3,000.
Advantages of dentures include:
- They are pretty affordable and take a minimal amount of time to create.
- Look and feel natural in the mouth
- Easily removed for cleaning
- Allow patients to eat more comfortably
Consult your dentist for the best tooth-replacement option
There are many practical options to remedy a lost tooth, regardless if it was lost via injury, decay, or gum disease. Each option has its share of advantages and disadvantages, which your dentist can help you evaluate based on your budget and specific needs. All the best as you strive to improve your dental health and restore your smile.
Information in this article has been gathered from multiple public health sources, including: