Are Dental Implants The Best Solution?

Dental Implants have completely changed the way we approach the problem of replacing missing teeth.  In the past, dentists and patients struggled with coming up with a predictable, long term, comfortable solution for this dilemma.

Before the advent of dental implants, patients who faced the reality of losing a tooth were told one of three possible solutions.  The patient could have the dentist fabricate a porcelain bridge, manufacture a plastic removable partial denture, or simply leave the space vacant. 

When a porcelain bridge is fabricated, the adjacent teeth to the missing tooth are prepared, and shaved down so they could anchor the bridge.  A dental bridge traditionally has been the best option for replacing a tooth because it’s cemented into place, feels like normal teeth, can be matched to existing teeth, and only requires 2 appointments.  There are downsides to bridgework however.  Sometimes the adjacent teeth are healthy, pristine teeth.  Bridgework requires these teeth be shaved down unnecessarily.  Because these anchor teeth are natural teeth, they are subject to tooth aches, and cavities.  If a bridge gets a cavity below it, it usually means the bridge would need to be replaced.  Flossing around bridges can be tricky because all the teeth are attached, which could lead to possible cavities or periodontal problems.  

Plastic partial dentures can be fabricated as well to replace a missing tooth.  Partials differ from implants and porcelain bridges because they are not cemented in, they are removable appliances.  Although this could aid in cleaning the appliance, it poses several challenges to the patient.  Eating is most challenging, due to the fact that the partial moves when pressure is applied.  This could cause soreness in the gums.  Food also seems to get under even the best fitting dentures.  The major advantage dentures offer is financial.  They are the most cost effective solution for tooth replacement.  But are they worth the aggravation?  That’s left up to the patients’ to decide.

Lastly, simply leaving a missing tooth empty is an option.  This is not usually advised because it can cause changes to one’s bite, decrease the chewing efficiency in that area, and can cause teeth to shift position, requiring more extensive treatment.

Dental Implants are the superior choice patients should consider.  In most cases, the adjacent teeth may remain untouched, in pristine condition, negating the need to shave down those teeth.  Dental implants will not decay, which is a huge advantage over traditional bridgework.  Implants allow for routine flossing, which is a major advantage compared to bridgework.  The implants are engineered out of surgical titianium, which makes them overwhelmingly strong.  The new tooth which attaches to the implant is cemented, and is not removable.  This allows for natural feel, and makes chewing a breeze.  

Dental implants have been called “The one tooth solution for the one tooth problem.”  They have gained popularity over the last 10 years, and are a routine treatment modality for patients today due to their conservative nature, and superior functional qualities.

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