Healthy teeth lead to a healthy smile. More importantly, they lead to a healthy life. Teeth allow you to chew your food, provide structural support for your face, and enable you to speak.
While the human face naturally changes as we age, tooth loss can aggravate the situation. The result: face collapse. Without the support of healthy teeth and jawbone, your lips and checks literally cave in. The more teeth you lose, the more difficult it becomes to chew and speak.
The only solution is to replace lost or damaged teeth. Choosing the best option for you might just be dental implants.
Tooth Replacement Options: Dentures, Bridges, Implants
When it comes to tooth replacement, your dental professional will tell you you have three basic options. All three restore your smile, your ability to chew and speak, and the structure of your face. However, they do it in different ways.
Bridges literally “bridge” any gaps between teeth created by tooth loss. They do this by attaching to the teeth on either side of the gap. This requires that your dentist remove some enamel from the supporting, healthy teeth in order to add crowns to hold the bridge. Some see this as a negative.
Dentures are removable false teeth. Your dental professional uses complete dentures when all your teeth are missing. Partial dentures are for when some natural teeth remain. Dentures have their drawbacks. It takes time to adjust to them in your mouth. Initially, you may find it difficult to eat and speak. They may cause minor irritation and soreness. Without teeth for support, your jawbone shrinks over time. The result: your dentures don’t fit, so you’ll need them replaced.
Dental implants are the newest tooth replacement option. They actually act the most like real teeth because your dental professional embeds them in your jawbone. The dental implant actually “tricks” your body into thinking the tooth is still there. This provides the best option for retaining your jawbone and facial structure.
Dental Implants Best Option Overall
Dental implants offer a better option than dentures or bridges because they:
- Look and feel like your natural teeth
- Don’t slip or fall out like ill-fitting dentures
- Don’t alter natural teeth, can protect the jawbone, and provide easier access for cleaning between teeth
- Are permanent, and with the proper care, can last a lifetime
The difficulty for most patients is the cost. Dental insurance traditionally doesn’t cover the full cost of dental implants and they can be expensive, as much as $4,500 per tooth. However, according to this post in the New York Times, many consider dental implants a worthwhile investment. Specially, “over a five-year period the maintenance costs for people with bridges were higher than for those who had implants.”
If you have one or more missing teeth, now is the time to speak with your dental professional. Ask about dental implants and financing options. You may just find they are an affordable tooth replacement option after all.