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Options for Missing Teeth

Options for Missing Teeth

Although the majority of adults lost their teeth as a child, doing so in later life can be an extremely stressful and humiliating experience that leaves individuals unsure what they can do to resolve the issue.

Permanent fixtures do not simply come loose for no reason, so individuals who sustain this type of injury are usually involved in some kind of sporting incident or have failed to maintain their oral health successfully over a long period of time.

Luckily, the increasing accessibility of cosmetic dentistry for people who may not have a particularly highly-paid job means there are a number of options available to them that could restore their smile to its natural best for a reasonable price.

While many people may decide they do not look too bad with a missing pearly white, it is important to replace it for both aesthetic and functional reasons. The most common treatments for doing so are either dentures or fixed bridges.

However, dental implants are becoming a more popular course of action, as they provide a longer-term solution, as well as slow down bone loss and preserve nearby healthy tissue.

What is a dental implant?

This installation is an artificial substitute for the root portion of the natural pearly white and is added into a pre-drilled socket in the jawbone to support a crown, bridge or secure a denture in place.

Created from titanium, the implant’s aim is to form a close contact between the outer surface of the implant and surrounding bone to allow them to fuse together through a process called osseointegration, which creates a stable support for the new teeth.

What are the advantages compared with traditional options?

Improved function – When a dental implant has fully integrated with its surroundings, it will look and act just like a natural tooth, allowing patients to consume the foods they like and speak with more confidence.

With dentures, eating hard substances can be a problem, which sees them come loose or cause pain due to the added pressure and it comes as no surprise that inflammation and irritation are common issues for those using this method.

Better dental hygiene – Unlike more traditional methods for replacing teeth, dental implants simply require brushing, flossing and regular dental health appointments – just like natural pearly whites.

No need to drill – Those individuals who receive dental bridges find the teeth adjacent to the gap need to be prepared to accommodate the installation to fit over the top of the pearly white.

This means the entire structure of the treatment will be damaged if one of the supporting teeth is broken or compromised in any way. However, with an implant, natural teeth can remain in good condition, while the device is anchored in place.

Improved aesthetics – This course of action should leave smiles looking completely natural and the implant is indistinguishable from the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, dentures can come loose and look noticeable if they do not blend well with the gum tissue, while bridges and crowns sometimes have unsightly metal clasps to hold them in place.

How is the implant placed?

Prior to the treatment, a dental professional will carry out a series of tests to determine the health of the teeth and gums. This will allow them to establish if there are any signs of decay or disease in the mouth, which will then need to be medicated before the implant is installed.

In some cases, a number of X-rays and CT scans are conducted to assess the bone quality and check for any anatomical structures to avoid before any drilling takes place.

The procedure is usually carried out under a local anaesthetic, but IV sedation is sometimes used if it is likely the treatment will take a long time to carry out, or for those patients who are extremely anxious.

During the procedure, the gum where the installation is going to be placed is cut and lifted before a small hole is drilled in the jawbone at the precise location of the implant. Following this, the fixture is tightly fitted into the socket and the gum is stitched back over the top, with some patients requiring a bone graft to create a larger area.

When the new addition has been placed, it is left to heal and integrate with the jawbone for between six weeks to six months while the tissue will grow and anchor itself into the microscopic rough surface of the implant.

Individuals are usually given temporary bridges or continue to wear dentures during this period.

Can anyone receive dental implants?

The installations can be fitted for people of any age if they have a sufficient quantity and quality of bone tissue available. The majority of healthy patients that maintain a good level of oral hygiene are suitable candidates for dental implants.

Circumstances that may deem a person unsuitable for dental implants include:

  • Heavy smoking – this may slow down the healing process
  • Gum disease – all cases must be treated before the installation procedure is carried out to ensure the long-term success of the implant
  • Teeth grinding – can be resolved with the use of a splint that is worn during the night
  • Excessive alcohol intake – this could disrupt the healing of the gum tissue.

What are dental crowns?

This course of action uses a restoration to protect teeth that have become damaged, cracked or broken down over time by strengthening the existing, damaged pearly white to preserve its functionality.

When are dental crowns needed?

  • When teeth have become decayed and there is limited tooth structure left in place that would be unable to support a filling.
  • A sizeable cavity has formed in the tooth.
  • If a large portion of the pearly white has fractured and it can not be built up using traditional composite bonding techniques.
  • Individuals who have had a dental implant to replace a missing pearly white will have a crown fitted to the abutment of the titanium installation.
  • To act as a support following root canal treatment.
  • If patients grind their teeth or have a poor diet, acid erosion may reduce their pearly whites to a point where the only option is to cover them.

Tooth loss and dentures

Dentures are removable replacements for teeth that are designed to look and function like natural pearly whites, which have improved in quality significantly over time, while appearing and feeling much more comfortable.

The fixtures are generally fabricated from acrylic resins, but have advanced dramatically due to the constantly-evolving world of cosmetic dentistry.

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