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.
When most of a us think of a teeth cleaning appointment, we think of polishing & maybe a little scraping. But the truth is that teeth cleaning appointments are about so much more than clean, shiny teeth!
Most teeth cleaning appointments also include a quick examination by the dentist. That’s one of the reasons we call them check-ups: your teeth cleaning appointment is an opportunity for the dental hygienist & the dentist check up on your oral health.
The dentist will pop in at some point during your time with the dental hygienist & perform a quick examination. This exam looks for more than just cavities. The dentist & the hygienist will examine your gums for signs of gum disease & your entire mouth for other problems, such as early signs of oral cancer. This may involve a little poking & prodding with a small metal tool called an explorer & a dental mirror. They will also review your x-rays, which are often taken at the beginning of the appointment. The dentist will discuss any potential problems that they have spotted, introduce treatment options if necessary, & ask you if you have any concerns.
Your teeth cleaning appointment is also a great opportunity for educate yourself about your teeth. Even if all you need is to brush up (so to speak) on your toothbrushing & flossing techniques, your teeth cleaning is a great opportunity to ask questions. You can ask your dentist or dental hygienist for recommendations on which toothpaste to use, options for whitening your teeth, or any other topics of concern or curiosity. Regular dental care works best when the dentist, hygienist & the patient are all actively involved in the treatment process, so don’t be shy about getting informed!
It’s also extremely important to know that your dental health is part of your overall health. Just because you see one doctor for your teeth & another for your general health doesn’t mean these things aren’t related! Gum disease & tooth decay have been linked to other health problems like heart disease & low birthweight in babies. People with certain health problems like diabetes or cancer are more prone to dental problems than others. In addition to oral health related problems, your dentist & hygienist can spot signs in your mouth (such as dry mouth, bad breath or sores) that may indicate a problem with your general health.
We know not everyone looks forward to teeth cleanings, but going to your dentist frequently for a cleaning & checkup is the best way to prevent potentially painful & expensive dental problems in your future & keep tabs on your health in general. If we catch a problem early during your cleaning appointment, your treatment is likely to be more comfortable, less complicated, & less expensive.
If you need a chipped tooth repaired or want a fast and relatively affordable way to change the look of your smile, dental bonding is the solution. Most people are familiar with dental bonding as a procedure to repair a chipped tooth after an accident, but it can be used for cosmetic purposes too.
Dental bonding is when the dentist permanently bonds a white or tooth-colored composite material to one of your teeth. First, the dentist will use a chemical to slightly roughen the surface of the tooth that needs the bonding. This will help the material stick better. Then the dentist will apply the composite, which starts out as a malleable putty. The dentist will sculpt and shape the composite into the appropriate shape, then cure it with a high-powered light. This light-curing makes the composite hard, like your real teeth.
Dental bonding can be used to replace the missing part of a tooth that has been chipped due to an accident or broken due to tooth decay. In these cases, tooth-colored composite replaces the missing part of the tooth, restoring it to its original shape and function, while also protecting the exposed soft inside of your tooth from further damage.
Dental bonding can also be used as a purely cosmetic procedure to change the way your smile looks. For example, if you have a tooth that is smaller than the others (sometimes called a peg tooth), dental bonding can be used to make it bigger. If you have gaps between your teeth but don’t want to invest in braces, material can be added to widen your teeth
slightly so the gap is reduced. Dental bonding can also be used to lengthen teeth that look too short or are not even with your other teeth.
While cases involving tooth decay may include other treatments as part of a larger treatment plan, dental bonding is generally a quick procedure that takes about an hour. Because it is non-invasive, dental bonding doesn’t require anesthesia and doesn’t cause any post-procedure pain or recovery time.
Teeth that have had dental bonding don’t need any specialized care after the fact, just keep up a good oral health routine and treat them like regular teeth. If you’re interested in bonding as a way to improve or repair your smile, start a conversation with the dentist next time you visit us!
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