Nearly 7 out of 10 American adults are missing at least one natural tooth. It might not seem like a major issue when the rest of your teeth pick up the slack, but it could be the start of deteriorating oral health. Spaces in your dental arches can allow for tooth movement, which can result in changes to your appearance and affect the way you eat and speak.
Replacing a lost tooth is the smart move, and today you have more options than ever. The traditional solution for years has been the dental bridge, which is an appliance that uses adjacent teeth to support an artificial tooth. Today, you can also choose a dental implant, which is a tooth replacement option that replaces both the tooth and its root.
If you think of a bridge as a connector between two points, you’ll understand the idea behind the most common dental bridges. When you lose a tooth between two natural teeth, the remaining teeth serve as the support structure for an artificial tooth. The natural teeth receive crowns, and these crowns support the artificial tooth that fills the space in the middle.
There are also other types of bridges, such as the cantilever bridge, which only needs one adjacent tooth to support the artificial tooth. There’s also the Maryland bridge, in which the artificial tooth is basically fitted with wings that attach to the neighboring teeth. The options for dental bridges depend on the teeth you’re missing and the health of the teeth that will be supporting the artificial tooth.
Tooth replacement systems like bridges and dentures only replace the visible portion of the tooth. A dental implant, on the other hand, replaces both the visible portion of the tooth and the root.
The root is important, because as you eat and put pressure on a tooth, this signals your body to continue replacing jawbone tissue in the area. If the root is removed, this signals the body to stop replacing jawbone tissue there, which could cause your jaw to lose bone mass.
With a dental implant, a titanium post is placed into your jaw, where it acts as a tooth root. Then, an abutment is placed on top of the post. Finally, a crown is attached to the abutment. In both structure and appearance, it’s the closest artificial replacement option for a natural tooth.
Both solutions have their advantages. In terms of longevity, dental implants last longer than bridges and are often stronger. However, not everyone has the jaw structure to receive an implant. Consequently, the best solution depends on the patient.
If you’re missing a tooth and want to learn more about your replacement options, call 305-518-1822 or book an appointment online with Gables Sedation Dentistry today.