Despite advances in oral care in the United States, about 26% of adults have untreated tooth decay. When that is left untreated long enough, it ends with a tooth extraction. Instead of getting a dental bridge or dentures, you’ve got the option of dental implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is basically a full-on replacement for your teeth. Instead of just being like a cap or a denture, the implant is actually attached to the jawbone to make it a more permanent solution. Dental implants function exactly like normal teeth, and they’re made up of three main components.
The implant is the first of those components. This is the part that is inserted into your jaw. It’s basically a screw that goes into the jaw and functions like the root of the tooth.
Next, you have the abutment. It’s a connector that attaches to the implant and will hold the third and final component of the dental implants.
That third part is the crown, which is a prosthetic tooth. It’s often made of porcelain or zirconium, which makes it look good and makes it very durable.
How Dental Implant Surgery Works
Dental implant surgery is usually an outpatient surgery that is done in several stages. Going through the entire process often takes several months.
The steps for receiving a dental implant are:
Removing the damaged tooth
Preparing the jawbone, sometimes grafting if necessary
Placing the implant
Allowing for bone growth and healing
Placing the abutment
Placing the artificial tooth
When the surgeon places the implant, he or she will cut the gum to expose the bone. Then a hole is drilled into the bone for the metal post to be placed. It has to be placed deep into the bone because it’s meant to serve as the tooth’s root.
After the post is in place, you’ll wait for the area to heal before moving onto the next step. At this point, you will have a gap where the artificial tooth will go, but you can get a partial denture to use temporarily. You’re waiting period is to allow the jawbone time to grow into the surface of the dental implant so it fuses together. The process is called osseointegration.
Once that process is complete, you’ll go back to the surgeon to have the abutment placed. That’s the piece the crown will attach to. Sometimes you’ll need another minor surgery to make this happen. The surgeon will have to reopen the gum to get access to the implant and put the abutment in place. Once the abutment is where it needs to be, you’ll have another couple of weeks for your gums to heal before the crown can be put on top.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
There are several advantages dental implants have over other methods of tooth replacement. They’re arguably the best looking solution available, which will make you feel better about your smile. If you’re not worrying about people noticing a difference between your real teeth and the replacement, this is the way to go.
Looks aside, dental implants have many practical advantages, too. As far as comfort goes, you won’t get anything better. With the implants looking and functioning just like your real teeth, you won’t really notice any difference in how they feel. There’s also no risk of poor fitment like you can get with dentures. That eliminates any speech problems or issues you may have while eating.
In addition, you’ll see lasting oral health benefits when you go with dental implants. You brush and floss like you would with your original teeth. All of the oral hygiene you’ve learned still applies, and there’s no new trick you have to learn.
You also don’t have to worry about having your other teeth reduced as you do with dental bridges. That means there is more longevity with a dental implant and less of a likelihood you’ll experience complications.
The Cost of Dental Implants
As with most health-related issues, costs for procedures such as this one can vary wildly depending on your specific condition, which surgeon you go to, and what your insurance will cover. Some plans include dental implant coverage while others don’t. You’ll need to have that conversation before you go in to have the surgery so you don’t end up with an unexpected bill.
In general, this procedure can cost anywhere from about $3,000 – $6,000 without insurance coverage. That’s for the entire procedure, from the damaged tooth removal all the way through placing the artificial tooth. Be sure to discuss the financial aspects and your insurance coverage thoroughly before undergoing this procedure. It may not be feasible for you if the price is too high, in which case you’ll need to look at dentures or a dental bridge to fix the problem.
Dental bridges are a solution for replacing missing teeth. The bridge serves as a false tooth that fills the void left by the missing teeth. It is attached to the two crowns of the teeth on each side of the missing tooth or teeth and appears like a dental implant. It literally forms a bridge from one teeth to the other.
Bridges are a cosmetic dentistry procedureused as an alternative to dentures, giving patients the ability to regain complete functionality of their mouth especially when it comes to speaking and eating. They also prevent any further cosmetic problems such as your teeth drifting further apart due to the gap left by the missing teeth.
Type of dental bridges
The three most common types of bridges are:
Traditional: The crown is placed on one of the two sides of the gap while the replacement tooth fits in between. The tooth used is usually made out of porcelain fused with either ceramic or metal material.
Maryland: Plastic replacement teeth are fitted with the help of metal wings bonded to the natural teeth on each side. Maryland bridge is similar to a resin-bonded bridge.
Cantilever: This bridge is similar to the tradition, however, differs in the sense that the tooth to which the bridge is applied is adjacent to the gap.
The procedure to fit dental bridges usually requires two visits. In the first visit, a temporary bridge is fitted while impressions for the actual ones are taken. In the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the permanent one is fitted. Temporary cement is used to hold the bridge in place and through the course of the next few weeks, the bridge is examined by your dentist to ensure it fits properly and whether adjustments need to be made.
Like any other procedure, there can be complications during or afterward. While dental bridges may serve as your natural teeth, they aren’t actually natural.
Common problems linked to dental bridges
The need to consult with a qualified dentist can’t be stressed enough when it comes to dental bridges. You have to make sure that you get a bridge that is custom-made to fill the gap left by missing teeth. Ill-fitted bridges lead to discomfort but that is just the start. With time, the false tooth can lead to irritation in your gums potentially causing boils, infection, and gum recession around the bridge.
You should go see your dentist at the slightest bit of irritation or issue relating to how the bridge fits. So the problem doesn’t escalate into something far more serious.
With dental bridges, you need to make sure you maintain good oral hygiene. It is common for patients with bridges to develop tooth decay on the tooth in which the crown for the bridge is placed. When this happens, the tooth is no longer stable enough to serve as the foundation for the bridge.
To avoid this, you need to ensure you have a good oral hygiene routine which includes brushing twice a day and flossing at least once. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis is also important so they can ensure your bridge or teeth around it are in a good condition.
It is common for a patient to experience some sensitivity in their gums and teeth, on the side of the bridge, for a few weeks after it has been placed. Your mouth is getting used to the crown and therefore more sensitive. However, if you continue to experience sensitivity after two weeks, you should consult your dentist. There may be complications related to the bridge from it being ill-fitted or just not right for you.
The tooth replacement option in dental bridges is usually made of porcelain, metal, or a ceramic combination. They are not indestructible which is why your dentist will tell you to eat with a little more care, avoiding food that is sticky or hard. Once the structure of the bridge is damaged, you will need to replace it otherwise it can result in other oral problems particularly infection or gum disease.
While it is not common but there are chances of cracks in the teeth that serve as an anchor for the bridge. The smallest of cracks can lead to numerous problems. The most common of which is sensitivity. If cracks are left untreated, it becomes a gateway for bacteria into the nerves of your teeth, the gums, and so on. All of which results in an infection. The sooner a cracked tooth is identified, the better.
Some dental bridge issues are unavoidable such as cracked tooth or ill-fitted bridges because they have more to do with the procedure than how you care for the bridge. To avoid the rest, you need to adapt the best way to clean dental bridges into your daily routine:
Brush the bridge but use a denture cleaner rather than toothpaste or an abrasive cleaner as they can scratch the surface of the bridge. Make sure you use a soft-bristled brush and are gentle. Putting too much force can dislodge the bridge.
When rinsing your mouth, use cool, clean water. Hot water may warp the bridge.
Do not leave denture cleaner on overnight, unless instructed by your dentist. Most dentures contain metal making them vulnerable to rust when in contact with the cleaner or water for a long period of time.
If at any point you face a problem with your dental bridges, be sure to seek professional help from our experienced dentists near you. Our team is always willing to help and offers emergency dental care for issues related to bridges. To make dental care less of a financial burden, we accept Medicare and other major insurances because we believe that everyone has a right to a million-dollar smile.
Society may place a huge emphasis on the ability to flash a “million-dollar smile” as one of the keys of likeability or business success. This may stem partially from the general disconnection between Hollywood types and the general public: the American College of Prosthodontists estimates that at least 200 million Americans suffer from tooth loss or edentulism.
However, the current abundance of tooth replacement options also plays a major part in keeping this epidemic hidden. A quick look at listings for local dentists is bound to show countless banners offering half a dozen different procedures, which often does little but increase confusion.
Is Tooth Replacement Really Necessary?
Losing a tooth often occurs as a result of deep cavities, out of control periodontitis, or traumatic accidents where the jaw bone is damaged. Long-time patients at VIPCare Dental know that all our restorative dentistry interventions are meant to prevent definitive tooth loss from ever happening in the first place – but factors such as osteoporosis and chronic metabolic conditions often get the best of us.
As this tends to happen mostly to older patients, it is easy to fall into the trap of dismissing tooth replacement procedures as a purely cosmetic concern. However, leaving gaps open in a patient’s mouth after extraction can progressively worsen their oral health: this will increase the chances of gum disease, create small pockets for infection to thrive, and even cause the surrounding teeth to shift.
Tooth Replacement Options: Which is Best?
Depending on the amount and
position of the teeth lost, the available tooth replacement options and cost
Dentures are usually considered the most cost-effective route
to replace a tooth. At its core, they consist of a removable prosthetic that will look and function quite similarly to
real teeth – but not quite.
Dentures can be either partial or complete. Removable partial dentures are the most common of all tooth replacement methods, as they can quickly fill the gap left following a surgical extraction.
Complete dentures, on the other hand, are reserved for complete tooth loss. Patients with advanced tooth loss are at a high risk of gum infection and shrinking. In such cases, we commission two sets of complete dentures: a temporary or immediate one to be used right after an extraction, and a permanent one that will be fitted after the gums have finished healing and shrinking.
The main advantage of dentures will always be their relatively small cost. However, they can be difficult to deal with: they can slip during the day, especially after biting too hard. They also need to be removed every night or before going to sleep – and forgetting to do so to take a quick nap can be dangerous. Finally, the constant manipulation they require can also cause gum injury.
The purpose of bridges is to “bridge” the gap between one or more missing teeth. At first glance, bridges are pretty similar to partial dentures, although they do not need to be taken out every night.
There are a variety of bridge models and materials, but they all follow the same basic structure: a
tooth-shaped pontic or crown, which
will stand in for the removed tooth, will be anchored to the adjacent teeth and
held together by an adhesive or screwed on by a small implant. Depending on the
available budget and their position, crowns are usually made from porcelain, gold, or different metal alloys.
As a general rule, porcelain bridges are more expensive, but
they offer more realistic results. This is why they are often the first-choice
material for people who have lost their front teeth. In addition, bridges can
either be fixed, bonded, or cantilever bridges.
A traditional fixed bridge consists of porcelain or metal crown attached to the adjacent teeth with a small crown. They are ideal for replacing up to two consecutive missing teeth.
on the other hand, are usually attached only to one side of the gap. They are
more unstable and do not prevent the adjacent tooth to shift. This is why they
have largely fallen out of favor, except for temporary tooth replacement
Bonded or Maryland
bridges are a low-cost alternative to traditional bridges. They are made
from a combination of porcelain or metal framework, which is bonded to the
crowns using resin. The framework, which is usually shaped like a wing or a
butterfly, is then attached to the palate on one side and to a healthy tooth on
the other one.
Although a bit pricier than dentures, bridges offer the
They are more functional, and feel more similar to real
They have a smaller chance of shifting or moving out of
They permit speaking more comfortably and chewing harder
Unlike implants, they can be installed even when the
surrounding facial bones are weakened or damaged
However, they also have the following disadvantages:
Since they always need to be attached to a nearby tooth,
they are not a good option for patients with advanced or total teeth loss.
They usually last up to 10 to 15 years. After that, they
will need to be completely replaced.
They need frequent refitting
Out of all options for tooth replacement, implants are usually the most expensive one. However, they also offer the best long-term results and can help preserve and improve oral health in patients with advanced teeth loss.
Dental implants are small
screws attached directly beneath the gums or on the bone plate directly
under or above the teeth (the jaw or the maxillary bone). These are inserted
through a surgical procedure which,
although more complex than just fitting a set of dentures, still rarely
requires a hospital stay. These implanted screws hold the crown in place.
Traditional dental implants use one screw per crown. These provide a very realistic and functional solution for patients who needed a good single tooth replacement option.
Patients who need an entire row of teeth replaced, or who have
lost more than three consecutive teeth, are usually recommended an all-in-four dental implant instead.
This procedure uses just four screws to attach an entire plate of teeth, and
therefore requires a very deft hand.
Getting dental implants installed can be quite pricey, especially if high-end implant materials such as titanium are used. Fortunately, more and more insurance companies are now covering implants, at least partially – and you’ll find us very willing to help you figure out how to best apply for it. This is because:
Dental implants provide the most realistic and functional results: patients can chew, bite,
and roll their tongues in the same way that they would with real teeth.
They have a lower rate of complications or accidents than
temporary tooth replacement options such as dentures.
They last a lifetime.
They offer long-term protection from gum disease.
They don’t shift or fall out of place.
They don’t require any adhesives, which lowers the risk of
an adverse reaction.
Unfortunately, no single method or dental
technology is absolutely superior for all cases. Patients who have lost bone
density, have a pre-existing bone condition, or who do not respond well to
general anesthesia, may not be good candidates for implants.
Cosmetic dentistry services often feel like an extensive, free-for-all menu. However, the importance of professional advice should never be overlooked. At VIPcare Dental Ocala, FL clinic we can provide you with a full consultation, take a hard look at your history, and help you reach the right decision for your mouth.