Root canals have earned a bad reputation. This procedure has become the butt of jokes on TV shows & in games of “Would You Rather”. It has also become the subject of an unusual amount of anxiety because patients expect the procedure to be painful, despite recent advancements that ensure this isn’t the case. But from a health perspective, root canals are heroic: they are a life-saving procedure for your tooth!
Each of your teeth has a hollow space inside it, which includes a pulp chamber & root canals. These interior chambers are filled with tooth pulp, which consists of connective tissues, nerves & blood vessels that nourished your tooth from the inside during development. Your dentist will perform a root canal procedure when the pulp becomes compromised.
Situations that can lead to the need for treatment include deep decay (i.e. a really bad cavity), a cracked tooth & repeated dental procedures. It is important to note that even an injured tooth that has no outward signs of damage can still have damaged pulp. The root canal procedure consists of removing the infected pulp & then cleaning & resealing the pulp chamber.
Modern advancements in root canal procedures & anesthesia have made the root canal’s painful reputation a thing of the past. The root canal procedure is performed under a local anesthetic, meaning you won’t be able to feel it.
Left untreated, damage or infection in the root canal could mean the loss of a tooth, not to mention pain & swelling in the meantime. But an infected tooth that has been treated with a root canal procedure should last a lifetime.
If you’ve been told you need a root canal treatment, you may have also heard the term “endodontist”. An endodontist is a dentist who specializing in treating the interior structures of your teeth, & thus can be thought of as a root canal specialist. If your dentist has determined you need a root canal, he or she may refer you to an endodontist for the procedure.
No matter what you’ve heard about root canals in the past, we know you’d probably prefer getting this routine procedure than enduring a toothache & possibly having your tooth removed. There’s no reason to fear root canal treatment!
Whether you’ve lost teeth to decay, periodontal disease or an accident, we know that having a missing tooth can be embarrassing, inconvenient & often very uncomfortable. Luckily, there are many options for restoring your teeth, but with so many options, there is also some confusion. In this post we’re going to break down the choice between dentures & dental implants for replacing missing teeth.
What Are Dentures?
Dentures are a set of false teeth that fit over the gums (full dentures) or clip into place on existing teeth (partial dentures). You can get dentures for your upper teeth, your lower teeth, or both. Dentures also have a gum-colored acrylic base that can be matched to the color of your actual gums to look natural.
Pros of Dentures
Dentures are less expensive than implants, usually ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on quality.
Getting dentures is a fairly quick & painless process that doesn’t involve surgery.
Dentures are covered by most dental insurance plans.
Dentures can restore a more youthful look to your face by supporting lips & cheeks & fixing the sunken look created by tooth loss.
Cons of Dentures
Bone loss over time causes dentures to eventually stop fitting properly. Dentures will need to be adjusted or replaced.
Dentures need to be removed & cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis.
Dentures need to be removed at night to give the gums time to rest.
Dentures can often slip out of place, causing problems when eating or speaking.
Food can get caught under dentures causing discomfort & potential for infections.
People with dentures have to avoid eating many foods, leading to a less satisfying & nutritious diet.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are an artificial tooth root made from a titanium metal post. The implant is inserted into the bone of the jaw under the gums, where it can act as the foundation for an artificial tooth, called a crown, to be permanently attached with a dental cement. Dental implants have ridges on them that make them resemble screws. The purpose of these ridges is actually to give the bone of your jaw more surface area to hold onto & grow around, a process called osseointegration. Once in place, dental implants & crowns are nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth & function just like them too.
Pros of Dental Implants
Presence of the implant allows the pressure of chewing & biting to be transferred into your bone, promotion bone growth. Without this pressure, such as with dentures, bone loss begins to occur.
People with dental implants can eat essentially anything that someone with natural teeth can eat. There are not dietary restrictions.
Dental implants are permanent & can be cleaned easily with brushing & flossing just like natural teeth.
Dental implants are permanent & can last a lifetime, meaning less cost for maintenance into the future.
Dental implants can also restore a more youthful look to your face by supporting your lips & cheeks just as natural teeth would.
Cons of Dental Implants
Dental implants cost more than dentures, usually a few thousand for each individual implant & crown.
Dental implants involve oral surgery & some minimal post-operative discomfort.
Dental implants sometimes involve several months of healing time before the treatment is complete (3-6 months between implant placement & final crown placement).
Implants are sometimes considered a cosmetic procedure & not medically necessary by insurance companies & are therefore not covered by some dental plans.
Ultimately, most dentists will strongly encourage the use of implants for replacing missing teeth. Dentists know that dental implants are the best choice for both your oral health & your comfort. As much as we think about teeth on a daily basis, we don’t want you to have to think of yours constantly! Once a patient’s implants are placed & healed, they can return to a life with a fully functional smile.
Like any dental procedure, your choice of which treatment to undergo & the results you can expect all depend in your individual dental condition. When we make a recommendation of treatment for replacing missing teeth, we take your current oral health, your health history, your ultimate goals & your financial preferences into account. If you’re interested in either dentures or dental implants, please arrange a consultation with us.
With today’s modern dental techniques & technologies, dental implants are the best choice for replacing missing teeth & restoring your smile to both beauty & functionality. Here are a few answers to the most common questions we hear about dental implants so you can understand how this innovative & reliable treatment works. If you are interested in dental implants to restore your smile, please contact us for a consultation.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are man-made replacements for natural teeth. The implants themselves are artificial tooth roots made from titanium & are anchored in the gum & jawbone. The implant’s screw-like shape helps it stay in place by providing more surface area for your bone to grow into, a process called osseointegration. Replacement teeth, referred to as crowns, are then permanently secured to these metal implants. They can improve your appearance, boost your self-confidence & allow you to speak with greater clarity.
What are the health benefits of implants?
Because implanted teeth are fixed in the mouth—rather than being removable, like dentures—they allow a return to the comfort & function of natural teeth. Increased chewing ability means you can enjoy more nutritious foods, contributing to your overall health & wellbeing. Dental implants can help prevent future dental problems, especially the gradual bone loss in the jaw associated with missing teeth.
What are the quality of life benefits?
In addition to being beneficial to your nutrition, no longer being restricted from eating certain foods will certainly improve your mood! You’ll be able to enjoy all the same foods that those with natural teeth enjoy.
Of course, you may be even more excited about your beautiful smile. If you’ve had missing teeth or poor-fitting dentures, chances are you haven’t been confident in your smile for a while. You may have even been hiding it behind your hand or avoiding smiling completely. Many patients who have gotten dental implants report a spike in confidence & the urge to smile a lot, just because they can!
Many implant patients also experience an improvement in facial aesthetics. Your new implants mean your jaws will align properly, giving your face a more balanced & often more youthful appearance.
How long does treatment take?
Depending on your health condition & the type & number of implants you need, the implant procedure can take a day or a total of a few months. In most cases when only one or a few implants are being placed, the first phase of treatment involves placing the implant in the bone of the jaw & allowing the bone to heal around it. The procedure itself takes 1-2 hours & the healing time can be 3-6 months. Once the dentist is satisfied that the implant is securely healed in place, the crown (i.e. the artificial tooth) will be attached to the implant. This takes one or two visits, depending on the situation.
For patients who are replacing all of their teeth at once, getting implants & prosthetic teeth placed in a single day is possible, though the overall healing time is usually about the same (3 months).
How long do implants last?
When properly taken care of just like natural teeth, dental implants should last a lifetime. In order to make sure your implants last, it’s important to follow all of the post-procedure instructions from your dentist. If you experience any pain or discomfort for an unusually long time after your procedure, please contact us right away.
Can anyone get implants?
Not all patients are eligible for dental implants. Generally, you must be in good general & oral health to be a candidate for implants. Those who are undergoing cancer treatment, have uncontrolled diabetes or uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, may not be eligible for dental implants. These conditions can affect whether the dental implant can be properly secured into the bone of your jaw, & can also affect post-operative outcomes. In creating your dental implant treatment plan, the dentist will assess all of the relevant health factors & advise you accordingly.
What are mini dental implants?
Those who may not be eligible for standard implants due to bone loss may be eligible for mini implants. Mini implants are smaller than standard implants so they don’t need as much space in the bone to be installed. Mini implants are used to secure an advanced kind of dentures or partial dentures. These dentures are much more secure than standard dentures because they clip on to the mini implants instead of being attached by adhesives. Patients who have implant-supported dentures are often able to eat many foods that they might not have been able to with standard dentures.
Mini dental implants can also be a slightly more affordable option for whole-mouth restoration than a full set of standard dental implants. You will need to have a consultation with the dentist in order to determine if mini implants is a good option for you.
What kind of care do implants require?
You care for your implants just as you would care for natural teeth: by brushing them for two minutes twice a day or after meals, & by flossing daily. With proper oral hygiene, your implants should give you a healthy smile that lasts the rest of your life.
How much do implants cost?
Because dental implants are a permanent solution & don’t need to be adjusted, refitted, or replaced, they are often a more cost effective in the long run than bridges or dentures. At a minimum, you will usually pay at least several thousand dollars for dental implants, but costs vary greatly depending on the specifics of your dental condition & the dental plan we are recommending. We understand that many patients have concerns about the cost of dental implants, & while the initial cost may seem high, having a permanent replacement for your teeth may ultimately mean you pay less for dental care in the future. Dental implants are a great investment in the long-term health of your smile. If you are interested in dental implants but have concerns about the cost, we encourage you to talk to us about your financial options.
How are implants better than bridges?
The main way implants are better than bridges for replacing missing teeth is they don’t rely on attaching to surrounding healthy teeth in order to stay in place. Because bridges are attached to surrounding teeth, they require these healthy teeth to be reshaped in order to replace the missing tooth between them. Bridges can also put you at a higher risk of tooth decay in the supporting teeth, while a standalone implant does not.
How are implants better than dentures?
The biggest advantage implants have over dentures is that they’re permanent. Unlike removable dentures or partial dentures, implants do not involve messy adhesives or false teeth getting in the way of speech or eating. Also, because they’re permanent, implants will always be a perfect fit, unlike dentures which may need to be refitted or replaced over time.
If you’ve lost teeth from decay, injury or periodontal (gum) disease, dentures are the solution. Whether you need partial or full dentures, they’re essential not only to improve the look of your smile but also your oral health. In addition to allowing you to eat as if you had never lost your teeth, dentures also protect against facial sagging that would otherwise occur & cause a more aged appearance. Dentures can also improve your speech. Denture maintenance combined with a regular regimen of proper brushing can guarantee you’ll lead a more comfortable & healthy life.
Please call Third Creek Dentistry in Cleveland today to discuss if dentures are the right option for you!
Dental crowns cover & support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth left. They can be used to attach a bridge, protect a weak tooth from breaking or restore one that’s already broken. A crown is a good way to cover teeth that are discolored or badly shaped as well, or to cover a dental implant. A crown can make your tooth stronger & improve its appearance.
At Third Creek Dentistry, we offer tooth-colored fillings. Tooth-colored material can be used both as fillings & to repair defects in the teeth. Because they are tooth-colored, it’s difficult to distinguish them from natural teeth. These fillings are often used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. They can be used on the back teeth as well, depending on the location & extent of the tooth decay.
Mercury amalgam (silver) fillings may be hazardous to your health. At Third Creek Dentistry, we believe that the overall health of our patients always comes first. Accordingly, at our office we have elected to only use new & advanced fillings made of tooth-colored materials that contain no metals or mercury. It’s just one more way that we show our patients how much we care. Your safety & smile are our primary concerns!