By Dr. Josh Song
Tooth loss is a common problem that has been occurring since the beginning of time. Luckily, we are now in an age when technology has become so advanced that single or multiple teeth can be restored with precision, esthetics and strength that make it seem like you never lost anything at all.
In my practice, I see people lose teeth for lots of reasons. Some have genetic conditions, serious tooth decay, severe gum disease, or have had their teeth knocked out (ouch!). Why replace a missing tooth or multiple teeth? Quite simply, not having a tooth or multiple teeth in their place can cause undue stress on the remaining teeth. This can actually make you lose other teeth more quickly. Think of it like books on a bookshelf. They’re all in their place until you pull one book out. Then the other books sort of slant and collapse into the space of the missing book. This happens with teeth as well. As they start to shift, you will notice gaps and spaces in the other teeth. This can cause esthetic and functional problems. Esthetically, you will see the spaces and gaps which can really change the way you think about your smile. Once the teeth have started shifting, you’ll need to get braces to move them back into place. Functionally you will start to hear your speech change (ie you may develop a lisp), you may start having problems chewing certain foods (say goodbye to steaks, apples and carrots!), as your teeth shift you will start chewing on different surfaces of the tooth that are not intended to be chewed on causing earlier loss of you remaining teeth, and finally it inevitably leads to deterioration of the jawbone which usually leads to changes in the way your face looks ( a sunken look develops where the jawbone has deteriorated).
Now we know why missing teeth need to be replaced…here’s the HOW:
There are 2 main ways to replace missing teeth: a Bridge or an Implant.
I’ll walk you through both options below:
- Dental Implants - These are like an artificial tooth root and crown that are inserted into your jaw bone to provide support and stability to your bite. It looks, feels and functions like a normal tooth. Dental implants can replace one or multiple teeth. They can be placed in your jaw on their own or as an implant supported denture, which is a highly stable denture that replaces all or multiple teeth. It “clicks” into your mouth to prevent the denture from falling out or becoming loose.
- Dental Bridges – This option uses adjacent teeth to anchor a false tooth in the middle. If you’ve ever had a “cap” or crown, it’s a similar process with more teeth involved. The teeth adjacent to the space are drilled down and a bridge that connects the caps on either side with a false tooth in the middle is inserted.
Dental Bridges VS Dental Implants
Here are the pros and cons of both dental implants and bridges.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
- Usually don’t require surgery
- Might be covered by insurance
Benefits of Dental Implants
- The implants can last for a longer span of time if maintained properly
- They look like your natural teeth and no one will be able to tell!
- Doesn’t have any impact on the adjacent teeth (no need to drill down other teeth)
- Prevents any further damage to the jawbone
- You can floss between the teeth, the implant functions entirely on its own
Disadvantages of Dental Bridges
- Dental bridges may not be as aesthetically pleasing as implants
- They can lead to cavities and decay in the adjacent teeth
- It is one unit that is connected to other teeth so you can’t floss between the teeth
Disadvantages of Dental Implants
- Not everyone is a candidate for them
- Sometimes additional treatment is needed to get a dental implant (ie bone grafting)
Whichever option you think is best for you, keep in mind that not all dentists offer all services. At Carstairs Dental we are proud to offer all services and would be happy to discuss any options you might be considering during a consultation. Give us a call today @ 587- 419-5967 or visit us online @ carstairsdental.ca and Book Your Appointment Now!