Weighing the options in tooth replacement.
First off, what is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a replacement for one or more missing teeth. It’s made of a metal “root” that anchors restoration teeth in place.
Implant roots are made of titanium, a type of metal that bonds with bone and is accepted by the body. During a simple, not-painful procedure done in-house with the use of local anesthetic, implants are secured in place to the bone. 6 months later, the crown or restoration tooth is put in place.
Why Are Implants Often Better?
Implants are often times the best bet for replacing missing teeth. How come?
o They look great!
o With full dentures you get only 20% chewing force of real teeth.
o With implants, expect 95% chewing force of real teeth.
o Maintains & prevents natural bone loss by applying an equal and opposite force to the bone.
o Doesn’t affect nearby teeth.
o Last a lifetime.
When are Implants Used?
Implants can be used to replace one tooth, multiple teeth, or even a full upper or lower set of teeth.
Single tooth replacement
If you are missing one tooth, it can be replaced in one of three ways:
I. A simple removable denture
This is a denture with one tooth that you take in and out of your mouth. This is seen more as a transitional or temporary treatment, not permanent.
II. A fixed bridge
The teeth on either side of the empty space are used to “hold on” to the missing tooth. The disadvantage with this method is that adjacent teeth have to be drilled in order for them to hold on to the missing tooth, and sometimes it is not in the best interest of the tooth to drill into it. For example, the drilling can irritate the central nerve, which may result in the tooth becoming sensitive to cold temperatures.
III. Dental implant
The implant is held in place securely without having to drill in to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.
Multiple Tooth Replacement
If you are missing more than one tooth, it can be replaced in one of three ways:
I. Removable denture
Depending on the condition of the remaining teeth and the foundation supporting them, an acrylic (plastic) denture or a stronger, metal one can be made. However, it is often difficult for people to grow accustomed to a bulky object that they have to regularly put in and remove from their mouths.
II. A fixed bridge
See above for “Single Tooth Replacement”
III. Dental Implants
With multiple tooth replacement, the general rule is one implant per missing tooth, though it is possible to do an implant bridge as well.
Full Upper or Lower Denture
If there are no teeth present in the upper or lower jaws:
I. Full dentures
If a patient needs to have all of their teeth removed, they are usually started with full acrylic dentures. The disadvantage with this option is that sometimes the dentures don’t stay in well, and become loose and wobble about. We don’t encourage denture adhesives to hold them in place because they can end up causing problems with the gums.
II. Implants for dentures
Implants can be used to retain or hold a full denture in place. Patients are very pleased with this because the denture ends up holding in very tight providing most of the biting power of real teeth. This option does away with clicking or wobbly dentures and messy pastes or glue.
III. Full mouth rehabilitation
If you don’t want to consider dentures that are held in with implants, then full mouth rehabilitation with multiple implants to replace each tooth is another option.
A special x-ray is required to determine if there is an adequate amount of bone to hold the implant. Sometimes, there is not enough bone to anchor the implant. Periodontal disease (unhealthy gums or bone) may also make an implant unfeasible.
The ‘”upper back” part of the mouth tends to be particularly troublesome because of the location of the sinus and accompanying lack of sufficient amount of bone. In these situations however, it is possible to do an In-office procedure to make room for the implant.
We’ve looked at three types of teeth replacement; removable dentures, fixed bridges and implants. All things considered, the ideal choice in most cases appears to be an implant for its compatibility and preservation of the bone, high success rate, minimal invasiveness – and did we mention they look great!
Hopefully this article will help you to make the decision that best suits your needs.
Please don’t hesitate to call us to set up a consultation to discuss your particular needs, whatever you decide. Call Dr. Axelrad’s office’s today at 905 791-3867.
About Dr. Axelrad
Practicing dentistry for more than 23 years, Dr. Robert Axelrad has owned and managed his own dental practice since 1997. Affectionately known as ‘Brampton’s Gentle Dentist’, he moved his practice to its current, state-of-the-art dental office in Brampton in 2002 to accommodate his growing list of happy patients.