You’d think in a First World country like the United States, missing teeth wouldn’t be a huge problem. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the time they reach age 50, Americans lose an average of 12 teeth (including wisdom teeth). And by the time they reach 65, 26% have lost all their teeth.
Teeth are important, not just for chewing, but also for talking and supporting your facial structure. When they’re missing, you can develop a variety of problems from a misaligned bite to jaw bone atrophy.
At Riverdale Dental Arts, located in Riverdale, the Bronx, New York, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff understand just how important it is to replace missing teeth. This is why, in addition to many other restoration options, they offer dental implants, now considered the “gold standard” for replacing lost teeth. Here’s what they want you to know about why implants are the superior option if you need to replace missing teeth.
Common options for replacing missing teeth
The most common options to replace missing teeth are bridges, crowns, and dentures, both partial and full.
Tooth-supported fixed bridge
When you’re missing just one tooth, the fixed bridge is the most common alternative to getting a dental implant. The bridge uses a false tooth or crown that’s bonded to either natural teeth or dental crowns on both sides of the gap.
Fixed bridges have some drawbacks, though:
- The dentist shaves away some of the healthy abutment teeth so the bridge can fit into the space.
- It may cause bone atrophy because it’s not rooted in the jaw.
- It can be difficult to floss, and root surfaces are susceptible to decay; they generally fail after 5-10 years.
A front tooth doesn’t endure the biting and chewing demands of the back molars. The resin-bonded bridge, also known as the Maryland Bridge, replaces a missing front tooth, with wings on each side of the crown that attaches it to the adjacent teeth. That means we don’t have to shave off any healthy enamel.
Resin-bonded bridges look more like natural teeth, but they aren’t as strong as fixed bridges and usually don't last nearly as long as dental implants.
Removable partial dentures
This restoration option uses dental crowns attached to a metal framework that you can slip in and out of your mouth.
The “partial'' is less expensive than an implant-supported crown, but it doesn’t look or function as well, and it isn’t nearly as stable or comfortable. This can affect both speech and eating, and the underlying bone may atrophy over time from lack of stimulation.
Removable complete dentures
Removable complete dentures can fill in all the gaps when you’re missing an entire arch of teeth. Basically, they’re a row of dental crowns attached to an acrylic base that sits on top of your gums. They’re less expensive than dental implants initially, but they have a number of drawbacks:
- Can shift and click when you eat or speak
- Need to be replaced after 7-15 years, so costs add up
- Must be removed regularly for cleaning
- Don’t stimulate underlying bone
Dentures also take a bit of time to get used to, especially learning 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 offer a “whole tooth” replacement, as well as a permanent one. On top of that, they look and function just like your natural teeth. First, we place a titanium screw into your jaw bone. Over the next 6-8 months, the screw completely fuses with the bone tissue, acting just like a natural tooth root. Once healed, we place a small metal connector (abutment) on top of the screw, which is then attached to a crown on top.
Because dental implants are designed to be a “whole tooth,” they represent a superior replacement option. Advantages include:
- Fuse with your jaw bone, acting as a tooth root
- Stable, strong, and permanent
- Replicate the natural bite force on your jaw, preventing bone atrophy
- Don’t slip or clack when eating or talking
- Don’t require extra care beyond regular brushing and flossing
- Don’t interfere with your speech
Implants can also be used to anchor and support complete dentures, preventing dentures’ common problems of slipping and sliding.
If you’re missing teeth and are looking for the best option, contact Riverdale Dental Arts to find out if dental implants are right for you. Give the office a call at 845-479-6927 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kupferman, or book online with us today.