You have various options for tooth replacement when you lose a single tooth or several teeth to dental disease or trauma to the mouth. Two of these options are dental implants and dental bridges. While each has pros and cons, dental implants tend to be the more durable and aesthetically pleasing of the two. We offer some information about each type of restoration below to aid you in making a treatment decision.
Dental Implant Surgery
The process of receiving dental implants involves multiple steps. First, you come to the office of Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery for Dr. Abtin Shahriari to install a small titanium post in your jawbone. This will merge with your existing bone and act as a new set of roots for your replacement teeth. This process is called osseointegration and it takes an average of three months to complete. You will have a few appointments during the healing time for Dr. Abtin to check on your progress. Once complete, he attaches an abutment to the post to anchor your new replacement teeth.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Your new replacement teeth look and function just as your natural teeth do. Unless you tell them, no one should be able to determine that your implants are not real teeth. They can last the remainder of your life without requiring replacement as long as you take proper care of them. That means following a regular oral healthcare routine at home, visiting your dentist for a check-up and professional cleaning twice a year, and not subjecting your implants to unnecessary stress such as using them to open a bottle.
Another benefit of implants that patients do not always consider is that they help to maintain jaw strength and facial integrity. When you are missing teeth, the remaining teeth can shift towards the open spot and cause problems with alignment and deterioration of existing bone. Dental implants also do not cause sagging of the face that is common with long-term use of other restorations.
The term dental bridge represents the fact that the restoration bridges the gap between existing teeth and permanent teeth. When you receive a bridge, your dentist places supporting hardware on the back side of the teeth to the right and left of the missing tooth. It may be necessary to remove a small amount of tooth enamel to achieve this. A traditional bridge is the most common type. It consists of porcelain or ceramic fused to metal.
It is a much faster process to receive a dental bridge than it is to receive dental implants. Unfortunately, they are much less aesthetically pleasing because the metal sometimes sticks up from behind the teeth to make it obvious that you have had dental work completed. Bridges are far less durable as well. You should plan on returning to your dentist every five to seven years for a replacement for this reason. Lastly, the adjacent teeth that a dental bridge relies on for support can become damaged over the years in addition to losing enamel initially to place the bridge.
We at Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery are happy to answer any additional questions you have about teeth replacement options. Please contact us today.