Unfortunately, I am missing several teeth from a couple different issues. I was in an accident a few years ago and had a couple teeth get knocked out. Then, I have another tooth that ended up getting decay underneath an old crown. There wasn’t enough of the natural tooth left to support the crown any longer. So, I ended up losing that tooth too.
I want to start improving my smile by getting the missing teeth replaced. So I have started researching information about dental implants. But, they seem to be very expensive. My dentist recommends them of course. Are they the best option to replace missing teeth, or is my dentist trying to make an extra buck? Please let me know what my options are for this kind of a situation.
-Bart in Indiana
Thank you for reaching out with your questions about options to replace missing teeth. As your dentist recommended, dental implants truly are the best solution to replace several missing teeth for many reasons. Yes, they are more expensive than other alternatives. But, when compared to other treatment plans, they do act just like your natural teeth. Not only will they look just like a natural tooth, but they will function just like them.
You didn’t mention how old you are in your inquiry. But, it is important to realize that as time goes on (10-20 years) you will experience bone loss where you no longer have teeth present. This can create a whole host of problems down the road. However, dental implants prevent the shifting of teeth into those empty spaces, as well as any bone loss. This is because the implant post is surgically implanted into the jawbone which will prevent the bone loss. When people experience bone loss, their chewing efficiency declines and they appear much older than they really are.
There are some cases when you may not be a dental implant candidate. For example, if you are a smoker or in poor general health, they may not work well for you. You also didn’t mention if your missing teeth are all together or if they are spaced throughout your mouth. Depending on the location of the missing teeth, you may be able to use a dental bridge, which is anchored in place by your surrounding teeth. But this doesn’t prevent the bone loss from taking place in those empty spaces, and it also requires shaving down the surrounding healthy teeth to prepare them for crowns because that is how the fake tooth that fills the gap is supported. A dental bridge is indeed less expensive. But, it may not be best in the long term.
If budget is a determining factor, it is possible that you could get a partial denture, which is removable. Or you could learn more to see if a bridge will work for the location of your missing teeth. As far as price goes, a partial denture is the least expensive option to replace missing teeth. And it should be disclosed that most denture patients aren’t happy with the end result. Patients can experience an uncomfortable fit with any kind of denture, and it may cause sore areas in your mouth. Some people also complain of having issues with chewing and eating. All that said, a partial will look OK. But, your quality of life will be much more improved if you choose dental implants to replace your missing teeth.
Thank you for your question. Hopefully, this will give you some more information to help you determine the right fit for you. Lastly, it is always a good idea to get a second opinion by a reputable implant dentist in your area. Then, you will be able to compare treatment plans. But don’t use price as the final factor when selecting your dentist. Not every dentist has the training and high level of skill to successfully place dental implants.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Rick Lane, DDS.