Losing a tooth is never part of the plan. Even with the best intentions, tooth loss can occur. When it does, tooth replacement is necessary to prevent future dental problems and to restore your smile.
But, how do you know which dental treatment is best for you, your needs, and your budget?
In this post, Dr. Brian George, your Hermitage dentist, explains the importance of replacing missing teeth, the pros and cons of dental implants and bridges, and which treatment is suitable for you.
The Importance of Replacing a Missing Tooth
Perhaps you aren’t bothered by your missing tooth, or the tooth has been out for a while and you have simply adjusted and become used to it. A lost tooth can wreak havoc on your day-to-day life and future oral health. Not replacing the tooth can create a ripple effect of consequences now and throughout your life.
Difficulty Eating and Speaking
Each structure of your mouth works in balance and harmony. The loss of one essential piece disrupts that balance. Losing a tooth causes a gap in your smile. This extra space can cause problems with eating and speaking as your tongue then moves differently around your teeth. You may experience slurred speech, whistling, or even spitting when you talk.
It becomes harder to chew because food often gets lodged in the space. To correct this, you may automatically switch to eating on the other side of your mouth or chewing at a slower pace. This can impact your jaw and facial muscles.
Although the teeth are anchored into the jawbone, they can still shift due to gum disease, tooth decay, or age-related changes. A missing tooth creates an obvious gap or space in your mouth. Without that tooth in place, shifting of the adjacent teeth may be accelerated. The larger space from the missing tooth creates more room for movement and a domino effect as the other teeth follow suit.
This process throws off the entire bite and can ruin any previous orthodontic work or teeth straightening you may have had. Additionally, an improper bite can lead to headaches, muscle pain, TMJ and jaw pain, uneven wearing of the teeth, and tooth sensitivity.
The roots of your teeth have an important role in stimulating and maintaining your jawbone. Without a root in place, the bone begins to break down. Over time, this spreads and can lead to additional tooth loss. It also leads to facial sagging as the bones across the face deteriorate making you look older.
Can You Replace a Single Tooth?
Yes! You can replace one tooth, a few teeth, or an entire arch of teeth. Tooth replacement comes in many forms so that no matter how many teeth you lose, restoration is possible. The important part is to restore your smile, both aesthetically and functionally.
Single Tooth Replacement Options in Hermitage
Your dentist can help you determine the best tooth replacement option in Hermitage, TN, based on your needs, lifestyle preferences, and budget. Tooth replacement can be done with dental implants, bridges, or dentures. Dentures are usually reserved to replace several teeth or all teeth on the upper or lower arch. For single tooth replacement, an implant or dental bridge is preferred.
Dental Implants vs. Bridges
Choosing an implant or bridge for your tooth replacement can be a hard decision. During your appointment, your dentist will review the advantages and disadvantages with you to help determine the best choice.
Pros of Dental Implants
A dental implant is a post that replaces the tooth root and is placed in the jawbone. It is topped with a crown to complete the full tooth structure. Advantages of implants include:
- Safe – Implants are often made of titanium or zirconium. Both are safe and are used in medical implants throughout the body. There is little risk of negative side effects.
- Successful – Implants are readily accepted by the body and are given time to heal as the bone and soft tissues fuse to become one with the implant. They have a high success rate and are rarely rejected.
- Healthy bone – Since an implant mimics and replaces the tooth root, it also stimulates and maintains the jawbone. This keeps the bone healthy and from deteriorating.
- Sturdy – Because of their unique positioning in the bone, implants are sturdy and durable. There is no risk of movement in the mouth.
- Easy care – There are no special instructions to care for your implant. They do not decay and just require you to maintain good oral hygiene habits. They can last a lifetime.
- Cost-effective – While implants cost more upfront, they require less maintenance and replacement compared to other restorations. Once they are placed, patients don’t have to continually purchase creams or have fittings readjusted. It’s a one and done treatment.
Cons of Implants
Some of the disadvantages of dental implants include:
- Higher upfront cost – While implants may be more cost-effective in the long run, they do carry a steeper price up front. For a single tooth, the average implant cost is $3000-$4500 from start to finish.
- Insurance coverage – While insurance companies are starting to cover more procedures, dental implants are not always covered. In some cases, they are covered depending on the cause of tooth loss. As with any treatment, check with your insurance plan to understand your coverage details.
- Healthy bone required – To place an implant, the patient needs to have healthy bone. If the bone has started to break down, a bone graft may be necessary first to build up the jawbone so the implant can fuse.
- Waiting period – In some cases, the implant and crown can be placed at the same time. However, in most cases the mouth needs time to heal after implant placement, so the patient has a period of a few months without a crown or full tooth in place.
- Permanent – This restoration is permanently placed in the bone. It cannot be removed or undone, except through additional dental or oral surgery procedures.
Pros of Dental Bridges
A bridge is used in smile rehabilitation to replace a missing tooth. It often uses two crowns to anchor to adjacent teeth with a false tooth in the middle. This “bridges” the gap from the missing tooth. Advantages of dental bridges include:
- Smile restoration – Bridges restore functionality to your smile, so eating and speaking can return to normal. Your smile’s appearance is also complete once more.
- No shifting teeth – The restoration helps keep teeth in place so they do not move, meaning future orthodontic work is unnecessary.
- Permanent – The bridge is a fixed dental appliance that is permanently adhered into place. This permanence gives it added durability while eating and speaking.
- Insurance coverage – Dental bridges are more likely to be covered by insurance than dental implants or covered at a higher percentage.
- Faster treatment – Smile restoration is faster with dental bridges. A temporary crown can be placed while the lab fabricates a permanent one, so patients do not have to worry about being without a tooth.
Cons of Bridges
The disadvantages of dental bridges include:
- Cost – Dental bridges are slightly less expensive than implants at $2000+ for a traditional bridge. However, they only last 5-15 years and will need to be replaced.
- Weak abutment teeth – The adjacent teeth are covered by dental crowns to anchor the bridge. However, these teeth can become damaged or weakened by the process. Additionally, future damage to these teeth will affect the integrity of the bridge.
- Subject to decay – If the crowns do not fit properly, bacteria can get under the cap causing decay in the abutment teeth. These teeth then need to be restored and affect the quality of the bridge.
Find the Best Tooth Replacement Solution in Hermitage, TN
At Dental Bliss Hermitage, we offer dental implants and bridges for tooth replacement in Hermitage, TN. We discuss the pros and cons of every treatment with our patients to help them make an informed decision. Our dental practice believes in patient education, a welcoming environment, and the highest quality treatments and technologies.
Dr. George was recently featured in an issue of Nashville Voyager. Read more about our Hermitage dentist, his devotion to sedation dentistry for patients with anxiety, and our advanced dental treatments.
Book an appointment now and let us help you restore your smile!