One of the worst things a dentist can tell you is that one of your teeth – or a number of them – are beyond saving and need to be extracted. Besides dealing with the initial shock that you will not have all of your 32 natural teeth, there are other problems than come with missing teeth. Besides the obvious issue of a toothless smile, there is the reduced chewing ability, bite problems, reduced speech clarity (lisp), increased pressure on remaining teeth etc. More serious cases of missing teeth may lead to a sagging countenance due to lack of support for facial muscles.
Thankfully, modern dental technology has given us many teeth replacement options that will restore most, but not all, of the features and functions of the missing teeth. Let’s look at these options and what they offer the edentulous patient:
The dental bridge is typically made from porcelain as well as a metal sub-structure. This treatment option utilises a bridge-like appliance attached to a tooth or an arc of teeth, which ends are anchored on teeth adjacent to the missing tooth/teeth. In the case of a conventional bridge, the dentist would prepare the adjacent teeth – using a method similar to crown preparation – upon which the two ends of the finished bridge may be cemented or bonded in order to hold the final restoration in position. This method has a drawback in the amount of teeth that needs to be removed on otherwise healthy adjacent teeth to accommodate the “crowns” of the bridge. This procedure may compromise the original structure of the adjacent teeth and cause future problems. A less invasive method involves a different type of bridge that features metal wings that are affixed only to the backs of the adjacent teeth. Compared to conventional bridges, this method requires less tooth preparation – and removal of healthy teeth.
Removable dentures not only present the most affordable option, they are the most basic and require the least invasive method. The denture typically consists of an acrylic or metal base, supporting an arc of prosthetic teeth made of porcelain or acrylic. The main drawback of removable dentures is the lack of stability, resulting in inopportune movements in the mouth – even slipping out completely. Not only does this have a direct impact on the wearer’s chewing ability and speech clarity, denture users need to avoid certain types of food that may damage or loosen the appliance. Although modern dentures look more lifelike with artificial teeth made from porcelain, they are considered an older treatment option.
A dental implant is a root-like post made from medical-grade titanium that is inserted in the jawbone where the tooth is missing. The titanium post in then left undisturbed for a period, allowing it to integrate with the jawbone in a biological process known as osseointegration. When the implant and jawbone have fused together to create a very strong and secure base, either a crown or bridge may be attached to the implants via attachments known as abutments. The drawback of the implant option is that it can take a longer time to complete the treatment as compared to other options. However the health and structure of the adjacent teeth need not be sacrificed in any way to accommodate the prosthetic teeth. Once fitted, implant-retained restorations are the strongest and longest-lasting. The fact that the artificial teeth are held in position by the root-like implants, also mean an unprecedented stability. In short, implant-supported teeth tend to feel and look like natural teeth. Implant patients no longer have to avoid certain types of food and are able to clean their teeth the same way as they would their natural healthy teeth.
If you are looking for a trained Cosmetic Dentist who can advise you on how to restore the health and appearance of your missing teeth, contact Quality Dental in North Sydney. Dr Luke Cronin can advise you on the most appropriate dental solution, call Quality Dental today on (02) 9922 1159 or visit www.qualitydental.com.au