Is a missing tooth messing with your smile and your bite?
No matter which tooth you’ve lost, a single missing tooth is going to cause problems. Depending on where the tooth was in your mouth, losing it can hurt your appearance and it can make chewing harder. Losing a tooth also leads to bone loss and orthodontic problems.
There are basically four options to replace a single missing tooth. Keep reading to discover the pros and cons of each option.
Solution #1 Dental Implants – The Gold Standard
Dental Implants are the gold standard for replacing missing teeth. It’s easy to understand why. Not only do dental implants look like natural teeth, but they keep their good looks. Compared to other solutions, implants last the longest. Dental implants have earned their gold standard status because they look and function most like natural teeth.
In addition, patients accustomed to removable teeth or bridges are always amazed by their new biting power. Our implant patient love that implants are strong enough to handle chewing like real teeth. No more careful, one-sided chewing!
With so many positives, there must be a downside, right?
The downside of implants is that they require more technology and skill from the dentist. In fact, the complexity involved means that implants both take more time to complete and cost more than other tooth replacement options. Compared with other options, implants look better, last longer, function better. However, they also require special equipment and a dentist with advanced training.
How can dental implants be so strong, long lasting and beautiful?
Simple. No More Bone Loss! Implants are the only tooth replacement option that slows down bone loss. Why? Because they’re also the only option that replaces the tooth root AND the tooth.
Replacing the tooth root is the key to stopping bone loss. It anchors the implants making them stable and strong like natural teeth. In addition, the new implant root keeps the bone and gums happy and healthy. It also keeps the tooth looking beautiful long term.
Thanks to the strength of implant roots, dental implant teeth are the strongest teeth in the mouth. These strong implant teeth let you to chew anything you crave. From apples to beef jerky, bring it on!
How do dental implants stop bone loss?
As we mentioned above, dental Implants replace a missing tooth with both a visible tooth and a bone-integrated implant root. This new artificial tooth root gives the bone something to hang on to. In fact, the implant tricks the bone into thinking the tooth is still there, stopping bone loss. Being anchored in bone stops bone loss AND makes implants stronger. Because implants are anchored directly in bone, they don’t need to be glued to neighboring teeth like bridges. Not only does this protect the neighboring teeth, but it also it means that the strength of the implant is dependent on the strength of the bone, not on the strength of a cement.
Imagine Never Getting Another Cavity!
Another major advantage of dental implant teeth is that they never get cavities! Made from medical grade titanium, implant teeth aren’t vulnerable to the bacteria and acid that wear down our natural teeth. This keeps them looking and chewing great—even when natural teeth would be rotting away.
If an excellent, natural looking outcome is important to you, these are the things you should carefully consider:
- Is the tooth already missing, or will it need to be extracted?
If the tooth still needs to be extracted, will Site Preservation Grafting be needed when the tooth is removed?
- Is there sufficient bone to support the new implant?
If bone Augmentation is needed prior to Implant surgery, this additional required step will add time to the process.
- Is there sufficient attached gum tissue in the area around future tooth?
Will gum tissue grafting be needed before, during, or after implant placement? In addition, will gum tissue grafting be required before, during, or after tooth restoration?
- What will the final restoration need?
In the first place, will the new tooth be screw retained or cement retained? Secondly, will a custom or stock abutment be needed? Finally, will the restoration require porcelain layering for improved esthetics?
Because all of these factors impact the price of an implant, it is practically impossible to know the answers over the phone when patients call us for the first time. However, with careful analysis and often throughout the months long process, the answers become clear one by one.
Solution #2 Traditional Dental Bridge
Conventional Dental Bridges are the second best way to replace missing teeth. Bridges are a quality restoration that look very natural for a long time. They are also fixed in place and don’t have the stigma or mobility of a partial denture. Conventional Bridges are a great way to replace missing teeth. In fact, bridges were dentistry’s gold standard for replacing a missing tooth until Dental Implants came around.
How did conventional bridges lose their gold standard status?
Bridges are no longer the standard of care for replacing a missing tooth for 4 reasons.
- Bridges require cutting down neighboring teeth to act as anchor crowns to hold the bridge in place.
- In addition, bridges don’t replace the tooth root like implants do.
- Bridges can trap food.
- Finally, bridges are harder to clean
Is cutting down neighboring teeth always a bad idea?
No, crowning the neighboring teeth is not always a bad idea. Turning the neighboring teeth into anchor crowns is actually a good idea if those teeth already need crowns. However, it is NOT a good idea if the teeth don’t need crowns. Why? Healthy teeth that have been cut down into crowns are more vulnerable. Ideally, healthy teeth should always be left alone and intact.
Why is not replacing the tooth root an issue?
Tooth roots anchor both teeth AND bone. Roots keep teeth stable and give biting power. Roots also keep bone and gum tissue at healthy levels surrounding a tooth.
Because bridges don’t replace tooth roots they have some limitations:
- They can’t provide the same biting power and stability as implants.
- Bridges weaken over time as biting pressure stresses the roots of the bridge’s anchor teeth.
- They cannot maintain bone levels or gum esthetics as long as an implant.
- With no root, the bone slowly dissolves away from under the bridge creating a gap between the gums and the false bridge tooth.
Bridges Do What?
A bridge fills the space left by missing teeth with a false tooth, called a pontic. This “tooth” is just the white crown part of the tooth that we see above the gums. Because this replacement tooth doesn’t have a root anchoring it to the bone, there is a space between the tooth and the gums. This space becomes a food trap. Left uncleaned, it can cause bad breath and infections.
Bridges are long lasting if they’re kept clean
The average lifespan of a well-maintained conventional bridge can be 10 years or more. What does “well maintained” mean? It means keeping all the bridge teeth clean, both all around and underneath. This requires brushing two times a day and flossing with both regular floss and a special flossing tool.
Why does this matter? A long lasting bridge requires healthy gum and bone. The tricky part of keeping things clean is accessing the area under the bridge. Some patients choose flossers to reach the area under the bridge. Others use waterpiks, tiny floss brushes, or special flosses like SuperFloss.
Solution #3 “Maryland” Dental Bridge
What’s the least expensive way to replace a missing tooth with a functional, fixed one?
Maryland Bridges are the least expensive way of replacing one missing tooth with a false tooth that is fixed in place and non-removable.
This Bridge Has Wings
This kind of bridge stays in place thanks to its “wings” that are fitted and cemented to the neighboring teeth. Because these wings depend entirely on cement bonding to stay in place, Maryland bridges are not as functional as conventional bridges nor do they last as long. Like a conventional bridge, a Maryland Bridges requires shaving down the neighboring teeth adjacent to the missing tooth area on the back sides in order to hold the bridge in place. With a Maryland Bridge, bone loss continues in the jaw in the spot where the original tooth was taken out. You can expect a well made Maryland Bridge to last between five and ten years, but not longer since the force of chewing will eventually loosen the bridge wings holding it in place.
Solution #4 The Partial Denture or Flipper
What’s the most affordable method to replacing a single missing tooth?
A one-tooth Partial Denture, also called a Flipper, is the least expensive way possible to replace a missing tooth.
If partials are cheap, why aren’t they more popular?
Partials DO fill the gap left by a lost tooth. They aren’t popular though because they’re hard to chew with and uncomfortable. And the list could go on?
Other patient complaints about partials include the following:
- Partials don’t stop bone loss.
- Partials are uncomfortable when they move and rock during chewing.
- They irritate the gums because they place all the pressure of chewing on the gums.
- Partials trap food and cause bad breath.
- It’s a pain taking a partial out every night for cleaning.
- One tooth partials “aren’t worth the trouble!”
Looking for a cost effective way to replace broken down teeth?
Partial Dentures are less expensive than implants and are quite functional!
Are We the Right Dentist for You?
It can be frustrating finding a dentist, can’t it? Every dentist claims to be the best. You want one that accepts your insurance. You don’t want treatment shoved down your throat? Ughh…
If you’re wondering how to know which dentist is right for you, here’s a tip:
Figure out what matters most to you in a dentist and find one whose website and office team talks about those things. Do you value affordability, comfort, expertise, flexibility, speed?
At Precision Cosmetic Dentistry & Digital Dentures, our values can be summed up in our Expertise & Comfort Guarantee. Are we a good fit for you? Only if our values align. Keep reading and decide for yourself.
Our Expertise and Comfort Guarantee means that you’re never our guinea pig
To us, expertise means completing advanced post-doctoral training. So far, Dr. Bec has completed more than 1,000 hours of specialized training in addition to dental school. If you find it on our website under “Services”, we do it with expertise. If not, we refer you to another dentist with the needed expertise to do it for you.
Our guarantee also means that we’re 100% committed to your comfort at every appointment. Why? Because Expertise & Comfort go hand in hand.
Our guarantee means that we set high standards for technology, quality-made materials and technical training. It means that we refuse to partner with dental labs or suppliers whose standards and values don’t meet ours.
People who hear about our Expertise and Comfort Guarantee usually ask if we’re also committed to affordability
Absolutely! Our commitment to affordability means we’re never the most expensive in town, and our commitment to Expertise and Comfort means we won’t be the cheapest either.
So are we the dental office for you? Maybe. We invite you to keep exploring our website. Maybe even stop by our office in the San Antonio Medical Center and meet us in person! We’d love to meet you.
As a patient, if you want your dental experience to match your expectations, it’s crucial to choose a dentist whose health values line up with yours.
Because trust isn’t something you can download from a website like a coupon.