The treatment period may be longer, but dental implants offer benefits that other techniques don’t.
Losing a tooth can be traumatic for the person involved and this is especially the case if the missing tooth is one of the ‘social six’ teeth that are visible when we smile.
Very few people will choose not to replace the missing tooth with an artificial one when this happens, but there are also strong arguments for replacing a non visible tooth too. Although the gap may not be seen by others, losing a non visible tooth can cause a number of potential problems, including:
- Other teeth encroaching into the space, leaving teeth crooked
- Thinning of the bone in that area, potentially causing facial changes
- Chewing and grinding of food with other teeth that are not designed for that purpose. This can lead to premature wearing down of these teeth
- Compensation made for a missing tooth can lead to bite problems and also potentially TMJ, a painful jaw disorder
Whether you can see a missing tooth or not then, it is strongly advised that a replacement be sought.
Dentures and bridges
Before we take a look at what dental implants can offer for our Ipswich patients, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of two of the most popular alternatives; dentures and dental bridges.
Dentures are still the most widely used tooth replacement method and they do have certain advantages in that they often require no dental surgery at all. This makes them especially popular with patients who are anxious about receiving dental treatment. Modern dentures are also more natural looking and comfortable than dentures of old. There are still drawbacks to this method though, and most denture wearers will admit to at least some degree of dissatisfaction with them. One of the main problems for some people is their lack of stability which can cause them to move around a little when eating. Not only does this make it more difficult to eat certain foods, but the friction involved can lead to soreness of the gums as well.
Bridges have an advantage over dentures in that they are more stable. The biggest disadvantage in this method is that their fitting often requires the teeth either side of the gap to be shaped in order to secure the bridge by means of dental crowns. Where these teeth are healthy and strong, it is not surprising that many patients are reluctant to have this done.
For both of the methods above, cleaning the replacement teeth involves more effort and can be quite tricky. Additionally, neither method resolves the problem of bone loss in the area of the missing teeth and in particular, this is a significant reason why dentures become less stable over time.
Although dental implants are more expensive, and the treatment period longer; anyone looking for a long term tooth replacement option would be strongly advised to consider them. Providing that good care is taken of the implant and surrounding tissues, most implants will last in excess of twenty years and quite possibly many more.
Implants can not only be used to replace an individual tooth, but can also be used for replacing multiple teeth, as we’ve discussed in an earlier Foxhall dental blog. For the purpose of this post though, we will focus on the individual implant, although many of the advantages of this procedure will apply to multiple tooth replacement too.
So, why do many patients of the Foxhall Dental Practice choose to have dental implants, rather than dentures or a bridge? The answer lies in the many benefits that they offer.
Because the titanium implants that are placed into the jawbone act as a replacement tooth root, there is much less thinning of the bone in that area. This avoids associated problems including tooth movement, facial changes and even speech issues in some cases.
Once your dental implant has completed the osseointegration period, where the implant and bone bond together, you can more or less forget that you are wearing them. Apart from keeping them clean and your usual check ups at our Ipswich practice, you can treat them exactly as you would your own natural teeth.
Dentures have to be removed daily for them to be cleaned and a bridge requires potentially tricky cleaning underneath it to avoid gum disease. Dental implants are very straightforward to clean, only requiring the same brushing and flossing that natural teeth do. Although the implant can’t decay like a natural tooth, its cleanliness is important as diseases such as periodontitis and peri-implantitis (both forms of gum disease) can cause implant failure. We also recommend that you have your teeth and gums checked and cleaned by our hygienist at least twice a year.
Strong and stable
Not just a political slogan, but also a summary of why so many people opt for implants. Unlike dentures, and to some extent, a bridge, there is no food that a dental implant can’t cope with that a natural tooth can. Even the stickiest of toffees or crunchiest of apples can be tackled with modern implants.
This one may surprise some patients, given that they are not immediately the cheapest tooth replacement option available. Given their longevity though, and the fact that they will not need to be replaced as dentures and bridges often do over time, implants work out to be good value for money. Patients can also take advantage of the payment plans that we offer at our Ipswich practice to help spread the cost of the treatment.
High success rate
Despite being a sophisticated procedure, the success rate of dental implant placement is very high indeed. Where implants do fail, it is often due to lack of aftercare on behalf of the patient. When you have an initial consultation with us, we will explain what you will need to do to keep your new implants healthy. We will also cover this in a future blog to act as a useful reference.
If you have found this post useful and would like to find out more about having a dental implant to replace a missing tooth, you can arrange to have an initial ‘no obligation’ consultation with us by calling the Foxhall Dental Practice on 01473 258396.