You’d think in an advanced society like the United States, missing teeth wouldn’t be a huge problem. Unfortunately, that’s not true. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that, by the time they reach 50 years old, Americans have lost an average of 12 teeth (including their wisdom teeth). And by the time they reach 65, a whopping 26% have lost all their teeth.
You need teeth not just for chewing, but also for talking and supporting your facial structure. When you lose them, you’re at risk for a variety of problems from a misaligned bite to jawbone atrophy.
Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff at Riverdale Dental Arts understand just how important it is to replace missing teeth. That’s why, in addition to many other tooth restoration options, they offer dental implants, now considered the “gold standard” for replacing lost teeth, for their patients in the Bronx, New York. Here are seven reasons why dental implants are so popular.
Tooth restoration options
Most people missing a tooth want to fill the gap for aesthetic purposes, and depending on their needs, they may opt for common restoration options such as bridges, crowns, and dentures, both partial and full.
Tooth-supported fixed bridge
If you’re missing a single tooth, the fixed bridge is the most common alternative to a dental implant. The bridge uses a false tooth (pontic) bonded to either natural teeth or dental crowns (abutment teeth) on both sides of the gap.
Fixed bridges have some drawbacks. First, the dentist has to shave away some of the healthy abutment teeth enamel so the bridge can fit into the space. Second, the jawbone may atrophy because the pontic isn’t rooted in the jaw. And third, bridges can be difficult to floss and the root surfaces are susceptible to decay, generally failing after 5-10 years.
Crowns are a good option if you’re only missing the visible portion of your tooth, say if the dentist had to remove it to perform a root canal. However, like bridges, they don’t stimulate the jawbone, and they’re not as sturdy as a dental implant.
Removable partial dentures
This restoration option uses dental crowns secured to a metal framework that you slip in and out of your mouth.
The “partial'' is cheaper than an implant-supported crown, but it can’t compete with the look, function, stability, or comfort of an implant. The lesser function and stability can affect both speech and eating, and the jawbone under the gap left by the lost tooth may atrophy over time from lack of stimulation.
Removable complete dentures
Removable complete dentures fill all the gaps when you’re missing an entire arch of teeth. Basically, they’re a row of porcelain crowns attached to an acrylic base that sits on top of your gums. They can be held in by suction or by adhesive products. They’re initially less expensive than dental implants, but they have a number of drawbacks:
- Can shift and click when you eat or speak
- Have to replace after 7-15 years
- Must be removed for regular cleaning
- Don’t stimulate underlying bone
Dentures also take a bit of time to get used to. You need to learn how to bite and chew with the appliance, as well as where you need to place your tongue to speak properly.
Why are dental implants the “gold standard?”
Dental implants are superior to other options because they’re a permanent, “whole tooth” replacement. They look and function just like your natural teeth.
First, Dr. Kupferman places a titanium screw into your jawbone. Over the next 3-6 months, the bone tissue grows completely around the screw, anchoring it in the jaw just like a natural tooth root. Once healed, he attaches a small metal connector (abutment) on top of the screw, which is then attached to a crown on top.
Because dental implants function as a “whole tooth,” they represent a superior replacement option to the others we’ve mentioned.
7 reasons behind dental implants’ popularity
Implants’ popularity comes from its advantages, which include:
- Look and function like a natural tooth
- Fuse with your jawbone, acting as a tooth root
- Stable, strong, and permanent
- Replicate the chewing force on your jaw, preventing bone atrophy
- Don’t slip or clack when eating or speaking
- Don’t require extra care beyond regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups
- Don’t interfere with your speech
Implants can also be used to support complete dentures, preventing the common problems of slipping and sliding. In this case, the denture acts as the dental crown that tops the implant.
If you’re missing teeth and are looking for a solid replacement option, dental implants may be just the thing for you. To get started, call the office or book an appointment online with us today.