Dr. Tripp here,
I’ve been a general dentist in New Orleans for long enough to see almost every type of dental problem. Of all the issues we deal with, missing teeth are perhaps the most serious.
You see, there are millions of Americans with missing teeth. Some of those people have one or two missing teeth while others are missing all of their teeth. Today I want to tell you about the ways in which you can replace your missing teeth. The options include dentures, bridges, and dental implants.
I want you to learn about the GOOD options and the GREAT options.
If You’re Missing One Tooth
Our first priority is always to save teeth. We can do this by removing decay and placing fillings or even placing dental crowns on teeth with severe damage. But it’s an unfortunate reality that not all teeth can be saved. We can suffer dental trauma that destroys a tooth. And sometimes a tooth must be pulled to protect your oral health, especially if there is a severe abscess that cannot be treated.
When that happens, we need to replace the tooth and restore function. There are two basic ways — dental implants and dental bridges.
BAD: Do nothing. If you fail to replace a missing tooth, you can experience jaw bone recession and a shift in the alignment of your healthy remaining teeth. With a gap in the mouth, your remaining teeth can shift into the gap. Additionally, a missing tooth is unsightly! Even one missing tooth can completely change the look of your smile.
GOOD: A dental bridge is made up of a series of three crowns that literally bridge the gap created by the missing tooth. The bridge is supported by two healthy teeth on either side of the gap. To achieve this, we must file down the supporting teeth and fit them for crowns. This step is necessary even if those supporting teeth are free of cavities. A dental bridge can last patients many years with proper maintenance.
The negative aspect of a bridge is that it requires so much dental work. Anytime we prepare a tooth, it’s at risk of developing root issues.
GREAT: Dental implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth. A dental implant is made from titanium, a material that naturally merges with jawbone. A Dental implant will preserve the jawbone and does not rely on the preparation of other teeth. While placing dental implants is technically oral surgery, the implants simply address the gap caused by the missing tooth and nothing else. Once the implants has healed, it can be restored and last forever!
If You’re Missing All of Your Teeth
Believe it or not, we have millions of Americans without any of their natural teeth. Missing teeth are most often caused by gum disease, a serious medical problem that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Patients missing all of their teeth struggle to eat and get the nutrition they need to live a healthier life.
So, what do you do? …
BAD: Do nothing. If you fail to address the issue of missing teeth, you put your oral and overall at risk. Dentists and researchers all across the world agree that people without have a lower lower life expectancy than those who do have teeth. It’s a lot to gamble with.
GOOD: Get removable dentures. The most common way to address missing teeth is with removable dentures. They have been used for hundreds of years. Using dentures, you can chew up your food, and, of course, you do not feel self-conscious when you smile or laugh. Dentures can also help you speak naturally — something that’s hard to do without teeth.
The big issue with removable dentures is that these appliances do not match the power of natural teeth. Dentures can give you only about 25 to 50 percent of the power you had with natural teeth. This number depends on the level of jaw bone you still have. Because nothing is fixed into the jaw, the jaw and gums will recede. This physical change can cause wrinkles around the mouth and make you look much older than you are! No one wants that. Jaw bone changes also make it more difficult to find a good fit for your dentures.
GREAT: Implant-supported dentures. There is a simple way to get more support out of your dentures: secure them. We use dental implants to secure dental implants. The process of placing a dental implant for dentures is no different from placing a dental implant for a single missing tooth. Once the implants are healed into the jaw, we’ll fabricate dentures to fit on the implants.
With the added support of dental implants, you can eat whatever you’d like and have a biting force that nearly mimics natural teeth.
Our office works with a talented oral surgeon to place your dental implants. We often suggest dental implants for patients struggling to secure their dentures. We’ve found that the implants lead to less hassle down the road and meet many patients’ oral health goals.
Missing teeth can be life-changing, but we can address your problems with a treatment that fits your lifestyle and smile goals. Call our office at 504-266-0664 to book an appointment.