If you’re missing teeth, there are several options that can help you reclaim your smile. Replacement teeth can consist of implants, fixed bridges, or removable partial dentures. To help you decide the right path for you, here’s a closer look at these three options.
Implants can replace a single tooth, or they can consist of multiple replacement teeth. Typically, this is the most expensive option, but it also provides you with the longest lasting results that have a positive impact on your oral health.
If you choose dental implants for your replacement teeth, the dentist does a small procedure where they put a tiny titanium implant through your gums and into your jaw bone. That ossifies with your jaw bone, which makes your bone think you have a natural tooth and helps to prevent your jaw bone from deteriorating as it does when you’re missing teeth. Then, the dentist places a cap or crown over the very small post, and you have a realistic, permanent-feeling new tooth. If replacing multiple teeth, the dentist puts in two implants with a bridge between them. In some cases, you can get same day implants which feature a continuous piece rather than a separate post and a cap.
Fixed bridges work in spaces where you need one or more replacement teeth. As indicated above, you can anchor a bridge with implants, but a traditional bridge gets secured to the two healthy teeth on either side of the gap. To prepare your mouth, the dentist or oral surgeon may shave down those two teeth slightly. To create the bridge, the dentist takes a mold or uses 3D imaging to capture the shapes in your mouth, and that information goes to a lab to create your bridge.
The bridge consists of two caps or crowns on the edges. These are going to slip over your existing teeth to hold the bridge in place. The area between those caps contains a number of realistic prosthetic teeth. Once the dentist cements the fixed bridge, it can only be removed by a dentist. This gives you the comfort you expect from real teeth. Additionally, this procedure tends to be cheaper and faster than implants. Unfortunately, however, it does affect the nearby teeth in a way that dental implants don’t.
Using dentures as replacement teeth has long been the traditional option, and contemporary dentures fit better than ever before. Dentures can be taken in and out, and in fact, you have to take them out at night to clean and soak them. They connect to your mouth with little metal brackets that attach to your natural teeth, and your oral surgeon may recommend getting caps or crowns on nearby teeth so that your dentures fit more comfortably.
On the plus side, dentures are much more affordable than implants or fixed bridges. They also look natural. Unfortunately, they can break or get lost, but you can always repair or replace them. As your mouth changes, the fit of the dentures may change so you should plan to replace them every ten years or so anyway.
If you’re trying to decide which type of replacement teeth is right for you, contact us to make an appointment. At Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery, we are board certified oral surgeons and implant experts.