Having missing teeth can significantly impact your daily life. It can cause you to feel self-conscious in your interactions with others and make everyday tasks like eating difficult. Beyond the issues mentioned above, lost teeth can also lead to long-term problems like bone deterioration, teeth crowding, and visual changes in facial structure. The good news is that you have more options than ever before if you need artificial replacement teeth. Three of those options are dental implants, permanent bridges, and dentures. Learning about these options will help you choose which is best for you.
Dental implants are designed to be a permanent solution to tooth loss. Surgical grade titanium posts are surgically placed beneath your gums to replace the roots of your missing teeth. The implants then fuse to the bone and act as artificial tooth roots. This helps protect you from additional bone loss due to missing roots. Dental implants also add stability by filling in gaps that would otherwise allow your teeth to move and crowd. You can care for and treat dental implants the same as your natural teeth. Dental implants are one of the longest lasting and most natural feeling options for replacing missing teeth.
Permanent bridges are designed to bridge the gap caused by missing teeth. Permanent bridges are different than implants because they do not have any element that is surgically placed inside your gums. Instead, the bridge uses the surrounding natural teeth as anchors. This type of bridge is not removable and is a great option for replacing partial dentures. You do have to have natural teeth nearby that are healthy enough to withstand the strain of being anchors. You take care of a permanent bridge in the same way you take care of your natural teeth.
If you are missing all or most of your teeth then dentures may be the best option for you. Dentures are removable, artificial teeth designed to perform the functions of your natural teeth. They allow you to eat a variety of foods and replace the facial structure you lost along with some of your bone mass. You care for dentures differently than your own teeth. Talking, eating, and smiling will take some getting used to at first. Getting dentures can be a big adjustment but they can be life changing if you have been suffering from major tooth loss or damage.
Dental implants, permanent bridges, and dentures are all designed to help people dealing with some level of tooth loss. The best option for you is dependent on a number of factors. Your current level of tooth loss, the condition of your remaining teeth, and the condition of your jaw bone will all come into play as you and your dentist discuss options. The key takeaway here is the fact that you do not have to continue suffering every day because you have missing teeth. Your dentist can help you find a tooth replacement option that allows you to function normally and comfortably in your daily life.
Julie C Berger, DDS, MA, FACP is a local Gettysburg dentist and a board certified prosthodontist specialist. She is a former full time instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.