At Lapalco Family Dental, we see both children and adults. So we know that losing a tooth or even several teeth when you’re a child is usually no big thing. You know it’s temporary and that those gaps will be closed by new adult teeth. But it’s a different story when you’re an adult and lose a tooth or teeth.
Suddenly, you’re looking at the prospect of flashing a gap-toothed smile for the rest of your life. Or, not smiling at all. You many not know it yet, but you’ll be more likely to chew on the side with more teeth. That can lead to premature wear on those teeth, to muscle imbalances, and to headaches.
Let’s be clear: there are plenty of adults who live with one or more missing teeth. But very, very few are happy about that fact.
You may have thought that replacing that missing tooth or teeth was too expensive. The fact is that getting a dental bridge or dental implant may actually save you money down the road. And either option will greatly improve your quality of life.
A dental bridge is basically three crowns bonded together. A crown (or cap, as you may have heard it called) is either a hollow or solid “false tooth.” In the case of dental bridges, the hollow end crowns, known as abutments, fit over healthy teeth. Those teeth will likely need to be reduced a bit in size so that the crowns look natural.
The solid crown that fills the gap is called the pontic. Once the abutments are cemented into place, the pontic takes over the smiling and/or chewing duties for the missing tooth.
Dental bridges are very well-established technology. The materials used to make them are more durable and lifelike than ever. Despite those materials, bridges still have some potential drawbacks.
The first drawback is in the nature of design itself. Chewing exerts tremendous pressure; when you chew on a pontic, that pressure is transferred to the abutments, increasing stress on those teeth. Over time, that stress can lead to failure of the bridge. Also, decay can compromise one or both abutments, again causing the bridge to fail. That’s more common than you might think, because dental bridges require a special flossing technique that not everyone takes the time to master.
Still, a dental bridge can be a good solution. Generally speaking, one or crowns, or perhaps the bridge itself, may need to be replaced every 8 to 10 years. Some last longer, others fail more quickly.
The state-of-the-art solution for missing teeth is the dental implant. The implant itself a tiny titanium screw that is inserted through the gum and into the bone below. Once the bone has fused to the screw, the dental restoration is firmly attached. That restoration is a single solid crown for one implant, or a bridge or even a full arch of replacement teeth when a number of implants are used.
Implants offer a number of advantages over dental bridges. The implant basically replaces a tooth root. That transfers the pressure of chewing to the underlying bone, which helps keep it healthy. Bridges can’t do that.
The titanium implants themselves should last as long you live, and restorations that are placed on implants tend to last considerably longer. So, while implants may be a more expensive option up front, many people actually save money in the long run.
You don’t have to live with the embarrassment and pain of missing teeth any longer. But
there’s only one way to know which option is right for your needs, and that’s to schedule a consultation with Lapalco Family Dental. To schedule a visit at our dentist office in Marrero, LA, call 504-264-6461 or fill out our online form.