Dental Implants Compared with Other Tooth Replacements
Whether you’ve lost a single tooth, several teeth, or all your teeth, dental implants offer several advantages compared with other tooth replacement options such as traditional dentures and bridges.
A dental implant forms an artificial tooth root after a small titanium rod is surgically placed into the socket of a missing tooth. Jaw bone regrows around the implant, and the biocompatible titanium fuses with the bone.
When replacing one tooth, a crown is fitted onto an abutment on the implant. Dental implants can also be used as a base for dentures and bridges. Different types of dental implants are now available, including micro and mini versions of the standard-sized implant.
Removable dentures are used to replace several teeth and consist of prosthetic teeth mounted on an acrylic base held in place by suction. Full dentures – also known as conventional dentures – can replace a full arch of teeth, while partial dentures can fill various gaps in the mouth.
Dental bridges – sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures – comprise artificial teeth fused to a frame permanently attached in your mouth. They’re called bridges because they bridge the gap between remaining teeth. Bridges are usually secured by being fixed to neighboring teeth.
Dental Implants Vs. Dentures
Full dentures provide a low-cost means of replacing a row of teeth. They’re a good option if you want to avoid the surgery involved in dental implants or you’re not a suitable candidate for implants. On the downside, newly-fitted dentures can feel awkward at first, particularly when eating or speaking, and you need to avoid foods that are very hard or sticky.
Unlike dentures, which may need replacing over time, dental implants provide a permanent solution to tooth loss by becoming part of your jaw.
Without stimulation from a tooth root, bone in the jaw can deteriorate. Dentures can’t fix this problem, but implants – as strong tooth root replacements – become part of your jaw and maintain its structural integrity.
Dental implants also give you a better bite function than dentures, with a biting force as strong as natural teeth. This means you can eat practically anything you want to.
Some people find taking care of dentures can be a hassle. Looking after implant-supported artificial teeth requires no change in your oral hygiene routine – you just brush and floss as normal.
Removable partial dentures are more secure and comfortable than regular full dentures, and usually less expensive than bridges or implants. However, they’re less stable than dental implants, and this can affect speech and eating. As with full dentures, the bone beneath a partial denture may deteriorate with time.
Dental Implants Vs. Bridges
As with dentures, bridges may need replacing with time and result in loss of jaw bone, although oral hygiene is easier.
One problem with bridges is that teeth next to the gap have to be ground down so they can support the bridge. Removing this healthy tooth structure increases the risk of decay and infection.
Implants don’t entail adjustments to adjacent healthy teeth, and they help to prevent surrounding teeth from shifting.
Why Do I Need to Replace Missing Teeth?
There is, of course, a further option if you have lost teeth: do nothing. However, this is highly inadvisable and can result in multiple oral health issues.
One in four people aged 65 or over in the U.S. has lost all their teeth, mainly through gum disease (periodontitis) or tooth decay.
Our teeth are crucial components of our anatomy. They break down our food to enable proper digestion and help us to speak clearly. Your teeth also play an important role in the structure of your mouth.
Leaving a gap after tooth loss can have serious consequences, including:
- Jaw bone erosion.
- A shift in bite pressure.
- Remaining teeth drifting out of place.
- Increased vulnerability to plaque accumulation.
Just one missing tooth can shift bite force onto other teeth, causing them to move out of position.
Missing teeth can also result in psychological problems if a visible gap has been left, which can be a source of embarrassment causing a lack of self-regard. Losing just a single back tooth can spoil your smile by bending your mouth out of shape and making you look older.
What the Experts Say about Dental Implants
Dental implants are the most advanced tooth replacement option, with a success rate of up to 98 percent – the highest for any type of implant surgery.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has concluded that dental implants are the best tooth-replacement option available now and for the future.
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) says implants are suitable for anyone in good general health whose jaw is fully developed.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), dental implants provide a long-term, comfortable, aesthetic and functional solution for missing teeth.
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) says the effectiveness of dental implants has made them an increasingly popular alternative to bridges and dentures.
The online Dental Implant Cost Guide points out that implants are the only tooth replacement option that prevents loss of jaw bone.
Implants are versatile and can address multiple issues associated with tooth loss. They can last for decades and can be used in place of dentures and bridges or as a support for a dental plate.
Prosthetic teeth anchored by implants feel and look like your own teeth, and the implants integrate with your jaw to keep the bone strong and healthy. Implants also give you a bite force far stronger than dentures and provide stability for adjacent natural teeth.