Whether you’re missing a single tooth or all of your teeth, it’s important that you replace them with high-quality prostheses. Teeth replacement is not all about appearances—although no one wants an obvious gap in their smile. It is much more important that you keep all of your teeth so that you can speak clearly and chew without difficulty.
Living with a missing tooth or teeth can result in even more serious consequences. Future problems can include: loss of the underlying bone from bone resorption; teeth shifting out of alignment due to absent neighboring teeth’; and, bite problems. In severe cases, you may even experience infections and alteration of your facial appearances from changes in the angle of your chin. As you can see, tooth replacement is of the utmost importance, and fortunately there are many different treatments available.
Let’s examine below all of your teeth replacement options in detail.
Undoubtedly, you are familiar with dentures. They have been around in one form or another for hundreds of years. Dentures today are available as a full set or as partials—with each set replacing teeth from only one section of your mouth. Whether you choose full or partial dentures, you’ll be able to remove them at will for cleaning and for sleeping. Dentures are normally held in place with adhesive paste.
Conventional dentures are less costly than most other tooth replacement possibilities. Also, dentures do not require any surgery or healing time.
You will likely be restricted in the foods you can eat. Items like corn-on-the-cob or hard candy may break your dentures. Additionally, many patients complain that their conventional dentures slip or have an uncomfortable fit.
Dental implants are now the gold standard for tooth replacement due to their permanence, stability, and esthetics. Your dentist will surgically place the implants, ensuring that they are anchored into the bone of your jaw. You will need to wait about six months as the metal implants integrate into your bone. Then, your dentist can add a final restoration such as a bridge or a crown. The result is the next best thing to your natural teeth—a prosthetic teeth replacement that appears natural and that never slips or shifts out of position.
There are several types of dental implants. Root form implants are the most common type. These implants look like a small screw. The screw anchors into your jaw and mimics the root of a natural tooth.
Plates form implants (also called blade implants) are an older type of implant but still see some use today. Rather than a screw, they are thin and flat like a blade. Plate form implants are hammered into position in your jaw. Their thin shape makes them useful for patients with narrow jaws or those who have suffered bone loss.
Dentists rarely use subperiosteal implants, which do not protrude into your jaw. Instead, they are only anchored into the periosteum—the tissue situated between the bone and your gums. Since they do not require bone anchorage, subperiosteal implants can be used in patients with severe bone loss. Today, many dentists opt to forgo subperiosteal implants and instead use grafting to build up bone.
Dental implants are permanent, secure, and appear completely natural. Patients never need to remove them, and implants allow you to chew and speak normally, while also preventing bone loss.
Dental implants require surgery, and you may first need bone grafting if you don’t have the necessary bone integrity. Also, the process of bone integration takes several months. Finally, it is possible to experience implant failure.
Though dental implant failure is rare, it can occur from infection at the implant site—usually as a result of poor hygiene after implant placement—or when the implant does not successfully integrate into your bone. The former is usually a result of poor hygiene after implant placement. Just because your new teeth replacement is artificial does not mean you can neglect your oral health. Proper brushing, flossing, rinsing with antiseptic mouthwash, and visiting your dentist will go a long way toward preventing peri-implant infections. On the other hand, failure of bone integration typically results from inadequate bone structure or from trauma to the mouth or face during the integration period.
Quitting smoking is an excellent way to improve your chances of implant success. You should never smoke before, during, or after your implant integration as smoking can easily lead to dental implant complications.
Hybrid Implant Dentures
Hybrid implant dentures use dental implants to secure them into position. They are more stable than conventional dentures. While the dental implants are permanent, some types of hybrid implant dentures have removable overdentures. You can take these out for cleaning and can then easily replace them.
These dentures are more secure than dentures that only use adhesives. You will be able to consume a wider range of food and not have to worry about embarrassing slippage.
Since dental implants are involved, you will still need surgery to receive hybrid implant dentures.
Bridges and Implant-Retained Bridges
A bridge is a prosthetic that replaces a few adjacent teeth. It anchors to neighboring teeth and contains artificial teeth. Bridges are not typically removable by the patient. An implant-retained bridge anchors to adjacent dental implants rather than to natural teeth. Such a bridge is a good option if you have few remaining teeth.
Bridges are usually cost-effective as you’re only replacing a few teeth.
Depending on your diet, bridges may be prone to breakage. Also, some people find bridges to appear obviously artificial and unattractive.
Remember, your family and cosmetic dentist is your best source of teeth replacement information. Schedule a consultation with them to learn the details about all your options.
- Coe, J.M. “Implant Success Does not Differ Significantly According to Implant Type.” Journal of the American Dental Association. Jan 2017;148(1):52-53.
- Fine, J.B. “What Is a Subperiosteal Implant?” Colgate. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/cosmetic-dentistry/implants/what-is-a-subperiosteal-implant-
- Han, H.J. “Multifactorial Evaluation of Implant Failure: a 19-year Retrospective Study.” International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Implants. Jul-Aug 2014;29(4):968.
- Holland, C. “Combating Peri-implant Disease.” British Dental Journal. Jan 2016;220(2):48-49.
- Sharecare. “What are plate form dental implants?” https://www.sharecare.com/health/dental-implant-oral-health/what-plate-form-dental-implants
- Sharecare. “What are root form dental implants?” https://www.sharecare.com/health/dental-implant-oral-health/root-form-dental-implants