Losing one or more teeth isn’t something anyone wants to experience. Unfortunately, it can happen. While staying on top of your oral hygiene, seeing your dentist every six months, and undergoing all necessary oral surgery procedures guards against this, it’s entirely possible a tooth will be suddenly knocked out in an accident.
There are steps you can take to potentially save the tooth if this happens. However, if you’re unable to do so, that doesn’t mean you need to live with a compromised smile forever. You still have options to replace a missing tooth or teeth.
One option that oral surgeons frequently recommend is a dental implant. A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root that is anchored to your jaw and supports a prosthesis on top, such as a crown or bridge. Although not all patients are ideal candidates for implants, as implants require sufficient jawbone strength to stay in position, they often make for ideal missing tooth substitutes. Because they’re designed to look and function just like your real teeth, many people might never even realize an implant is fake. Implants are also durable. With proper care, an implant can replace a missing tooth permanently.
That said, the process of having an implant inserted into your mouth does involve multiple visits with your oral surgeon over the course of several months. You might wonder if a simpler option, such as dentures, is better for you.
The most important point to remember is that oral surgeons carefully assess the needs of each patient when determining the proper treatment plan. If yours recommends oral surgery, take their advice seriously. The longer you wait to replace a missing tooth, the greater the odds you’ll experience negative side effects that can impact both your health and facial appearance.
In the meantime, the following points will help you better understand the difference between dentures and implants, and why many oral surgeons consider implants to be the superior option.
When They’re Used
It’s worth noting that dentures don’t always serve to replace all teeth. Partial dentures can sometimes be used when some of a patient’s natural teeth still remain. If you’re not missing all your teeth, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need an implant. That said, if you’re simply replacing one tooth, there’s a good chance your oral surgeon will recommend an implant.
How They Stay in Your Mouth
An implant can replace a missing tooth permanently because it is secured to the jawbone in much the same way natural teeth already are. Partial dentures are somewhat different. The components that replace missing teeth are secured to a bridge, with two crowns that cover the teeth adjacent to the gap. This helps to keep dentures in place.
That said, some patients find that partial dentures may become loose or slip more easily when compared to implants, which tend to remain secure. This can result in discomfort and frustration. Additionally, dentures of all kinds typically need to be removed frequently for cleaning. That’s not the case with implants. Because they act like natural teeth, caring for them simply involves brushing, flossing, and regular trips to the dentist.
Potential Health Considerations
Guarding against jawbone deterioration is one of the most important reasons you shouldn’t wait to proceed with treatment when an oral surgeon recommends implants. When a tooth is missing, the jawbone no longer needs to support it and begins to deteriorate. This may prevent you from being a viable candidate for implants in the future. Additionally, deterioration of the jawbone can impact your appearance by causing that area of your face to sink in.
Dental implants help prevent this. Again, because they function much like natural teeth, the jawbone doesn’t “know” the difference. That’s unfortunately not the case with dentures. When they are in place, they do correct the sunken quality your face may take on as a result of jawbone deterioration, but dentures don’t actually stop jawbone deterioration from occurring.
It’s also worth noting that partial dentures can cause damage to adjacent teeth. This is simply because they rely on adjacent teeth for support. If partial dentures are damaged, it’s possible the natural teeth to which they are anchored may also sustain damage.
That’s not something you have to worry about with dental implants. Because the jawbone provides all the support they need, damage to an implant does not necessarily result in damage to nearby teeth.
Dentures typically don’t last forever. Eventually, they will need to be remade or relined. While getting dentures may seem to be the more convenient or cheaper option, in the long run, they could actually involve a greater time investment than implants.
Remember this when discussing the topic with your oral surgeon. If you want to replace missing teeth with an option that doesn’t require constant maintenance and long-term coordination with specialists, an implant is usually the best choice.
You should also feel comfortable asking your oral surgeon any questions you may have. They’ll gladly address your concerns. The more you talk about the benefits of implants as opposed to dentures, the more you’ll appreciate why your oral surgeon recommended a particular treatment.