There are many reasons why people lose their permanent teeth. Causes cover the gamut from gum diseases to injuries (external impact) to dental caries to bone loss conditions. Whatever the reasons, a handful of treatment options are available to treat missing teeth – dentures, bridges or dental implants. In the majority of cases, a restorative or cosmetic dentist would be performing the treatment. Many people would not consider replacing their missing teeth unless they are the front teeth. However, the appearance factor should not be the only reason for replacing one’s missing permanent teeth.

Dentists do not only recommend teeth replacement procedures to fill the gaps in your smile solely as an aesthetic concern. The absence of a tooth can lead to problems and dental complications down the road. For starters, missing teeth can lead to changes in speech, improper bites, bone loss and oral ailments.

The gaps created by missing teeth can cause neighbouring teeth to drift into the vacated space. Having moved from their original positions, the teeth become misaligned and the bite quality deteriorates. The overlapping teeth also create pockets of space that are difficult to clean, leading to plaque development, cavities and gum diseases. Over time, the bone that used to support the missing teeth begins to erode in a process known as bone resorption. If left untreated, bone resorption can affect the surrounding area of the jawbone and result in the loosening of neighbouring teeth. So even if your missing teeth do not affect the appearance of your smile, it does not mean that you can afford to leave the gaps unattended for too long.

Treatment options for replacing missing teeth

In the past, the only option you had for replacing missing teeth was dentures. Thankfully, there have been major advances in dentistry such that today’s edentulous (lacking teeth) patients have modern options like bridges and dental implants to choose from.

Dentures are what most people would call "false teeth”, a removable dental device that fits in your mouth to replace a partial or complete set of missing teeth. Well-designed dentures are made to the exact dimensions of your mouth so that they fit snugly without adding extra bulk. Unlike “fake teeth” of the past, modern dentures are more precisely fabricated and use better materials to mimic the appearance of healthy teeth.

A dental bridge can also be considered as a type of denture. However, the bridge restoration presents a permanent solution for replacing one’s missing teeth. Unlike removable dentures, the dental bridge is affixed to adjacent teeth or dental implants to fill in the gaps. Bridges may also be customised to both the upper or lower arch for a partial or complete set of artificial teeth. When your jawbone lacks sufficient bone density, bone graft procedure may become necessary to build up the bone loss before teeth replacement procedures like dental implants may be administered.

Reasons why dental implants are becoming the preferred choice

Offering unprecedented stability and durability, dental implants have emerged as a popular option for tooth replacement. They are tiny posts made of titanium that are placed in areas of the mouth where there are missing teeth. The primary objective of implants is to replace the tooth roots and serve as anchor for the artificial teeth. The “root-like” posts provide a solid base that allows the artificial teeth to feel and function like your real teeth.

Unlike fixed bridges, dental implants do not need to be anchored to your neighbouring teeth, hence they do not depend on your remaining teeth for support. Because they are placed directly into the jaw bone, the biocompatible implants will fuse with the bone through a process known as osseointegration. The fused implants help to prevent bone resorption by maintaining bone mass of the missing tooth’s underlying bone structure. In turn, the reinforced bone structure improves the implant’s ability to support the same functions as natural tooth roots.

All in all, dental implants offer the most secure teeth replacement option that is the closest thing to getting back your own natural teeth. If your dental implants are properly maintained, they can last for more than 30 years – in many cases, they can last throughout the patient’s life.

Although the cost of implant surgery is considerably higher than getting new dentures, dental implants are an amazing advance in options available for replacing lost teeth, and they continue to grow in popularity. Research has shown that when properly maintained, implant supported replacement teeth can last for more than 30 years. When they are properly maintained, the chances of implants lasting throughout the life of the patient are very high. Although implants may be the most expensive of the teeth replacement options, the initial costs should be viewed in relation to its longevity and lifestyle benefits – just consider the hassles of maintaining the teeth-soaking rituals associated with removable dentures. Besides being similar to natural teeth in its permanence and “root-like” support, dental implants look and function like real teeth. That alone is enough reason to consider them!

If you are considering dental implants to replace your missing teeth, contact Albany Dental for a consultation today at (07) 3264 9590.