Missing some teeth? You may be surprised by how many people are in the exact same boat as you. An estimated 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth.
Two go-to solutions for replacing missing teeth are dentures and implants. You’ve likely heard of these before, but which is the best option for you?
In today’s post, we’ll take a look at the topic of tooth loss, discuss the differences between implants and dentures, and outline a few advantages and drawbacks of both. Then contact us to schedule a consultation and learn our professional recommendation for you.
How replacing missing teeth improves your health
Missing one or more teeth makes it awkward to chew, eat, and speak, and changes the way you look. But from a health perspective, there are other reasons why missing teeth are problematic.
Left for too long, even just one missing tooth can lead to a host of issues:
- Crooked and misaligned neighboring teeth
- Difficulty brushing and flossing
- Increased risk of decay and gum disease
- Increased risk of losing more teeth
- Bone loss in the jaw, an issue that cannot be reversed
- Higher prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
- Weaker teeth, resulting in chips and cracks
Taking steps to replace a missing tooth is not an indulgent pursuit — it’s vital for your continued health and wellness.
What to do if you’ve just knocked out a tooth
Car crashes, sports injuries, workplace accidents, or other causes of blunt force trauma to the head and face can all lead to lost teeth. If your tooth has been accidentally knocked out, take immediate action — you might be able to save it!
Here’s what to do:
- Try to find the tooth, but avoid picking it up by the roots. Touch the crown of the tooth only.
- Put the tooth in a clean container, covering it with milk or saliva.
- Call your dentist to let them know what happened and get their advice on next steps. Most of the time, you should plan to visit the ER immediately. Every ER has an oral surgeon on call and can help you get the tooth reimplanted. This process needs to be done within 30 minutes to be successful.
Other reasons people lose their teeth
An accident isn’t always the cause of tooth loss. More commonly, a dental health issue is the root of the issue. The two biggest instigators of tooth loss are:
- Gum disease -The #1 cause of preventable tooth loss in adults. Your gums hold your teeth securely in place. When your gums become inflamed and diseased, they weaken and put the teeth they support at risk.
- Cavity & decay – If a cavity is left to sit for too long, the decay can spread deep into your tooth. Often, in these cases of advanced decay, extracting the tooth may be the only options.
Good to know: How to prevent tooth loss
As long as you take steps to correct it, a missing tooth is not catastrophic — you have options! But you should also do your very best to avoid any missing teeth in the future.
Keep these tips in mind for keeping your teeth strong and healthy.
- Brush your teeth 2x a day — Brushing your teeth with proper technique is the best thing you can do to prevent dental health issues. Make sure you brush for at least 2 minutes, and always use a soft bristle toothbrush unless otherwise directed by your dentist.
- Floss daily – Don’t forget to floss! Even putting it off for a couple days can begin the cycle of dangerous tartar buildup along your gum line.
- See your dentist every 6 months – Regular exams and checkups are so important for catching little issues early on, before they can become a full-on dental disaster.
The best tooth replacement options
As we mentioned earlier in this post, dentures and implants are the 2 most common tooth-replacement options.
Here at Cedar Village Dentistry, we rarely recommend traditional dentures as the best fix. Instead, when we talk about dentures, we’re usually referring to a high-tech implant-supported option.
Take a look below to understand the differences.
Traditional dentures are a set of removable false teeth. These prosthetics can be made to replace just a couple teeth or the full arch of your mouth.
- Lower initial out-of-pocket costs
- No additional procedures or healing time
- Doesn’t offer bone support, leading to bone loss in the jaw, a process known as resorption
- Uses an adhesive and can slip and slide in your mouth
- Difficult to clean
- Can make eating and speaking difficult
- Usually don’t look like natural teeth
Modern dental implants are known as the best way to restore your smile. Dental implants are surgically placed in your jaw bone and act as the natural root of your tooth. Once the implant has been given time to heal, it’s topped off with a restoration — the portion of a tooth that looks like a tooth!
- Actually makes your jaw bone stronger, preserving your facial appearance
- Solid and secure fit making it easy to eat, drink, smile, and live with confidence
- Can restore as few as 1 missing tooth or as many as all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw
- Easy to brush just like natural teeth
- With proper care can last a lifetime
- Higher initial cost
- Longer healing time
- May require a bone graft prior to the implant procedure
As we mentioned above, once an implant has been placed in your jaw and allowed to heal, it’s finished with a restoration. Typically, this is done with a crown or a bridge. However, we can also finish your implant with a complete or partial denture. This is called an implant-supported denture.
In addition to the pros and drawbacks listed under dental implants, there’s one additional advantage for denture-supported implants. Depending on your needs, this type of restoration can be created to stay in your mouth permanently or as a removable option.
Dentures or implants: which is right for you?
Most everyone with missing teeth can benefit from an implant restoration. Like we mentioned above, we don’t usually recommend a traditional denture solution. However, no two mouths or situations are the same, so it’s important to talk to a dentist and find out your unique recommendation.
In general, traditional dentures may be a good choice when you…
- Need a less expensive upfront solution
- Want a quick fix
- Have a weak jaw or advanced gum disease and may not be a candidate for implants
Implants and implant-supported dentures, on the other hand, are usually the best choice when you…
- Need a long-term solution
- Don’t want to deal with special cleanings or frequent replacements or maintenance
- Want a tooth replacement solution that feels and looks exactly like natural teeth
Get a professional recommendation
If you’re missing one or more teeth, talk to a dentist about your options. As we learned at the top of this post, missing teeth are dangerous for your health. You owe it to your health (and your smile) to find a solution.
At Cedar Village Dentistry, we offer free tooth replacement consultations and would love to meet you. We’re also proud to offer pricing options as low as $100 per month through Care Credit, Lending Club, and Green Sky Financing.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn more.
Dr. Dooley graduated from the University of Kentucky School of Dentistry and went on to complete IV Sedation training at Miami Valley Hospital and a Fellowship at Midwest Implant Institute. As an enthusiastic dentist with comprehensive dental expertise, Dr. Dooley is proud to combine modern techniques and high-tech equipment to provide personalized and comfortable care to his patients