Did you know that the average American adult is missing three teeth, or is soon to lose them? The largest contributor to tooth loss is advanced gum disease, or periodontitis: a one-two punch of corrosive organic acids (produced as waste by oral bacteria) and chronic inflammation that destroys your gum tissues and the bone density of your jaw, until finally the teeth begin to come free from their fleshy moorings and either fall out, or are so loose that they cannot be salvaged through dental intervention and must be extracted by an oral surgeon (which even today is a risky undertaking; while we can control the pain you experience during the procedure, the risk of postoperative infection is high; this can be deadly).
To avoid additional (and even more miserable) complications caused by tooth loss (which among other things includes further tooth loss), you need to reach out to your dentist immediately. In our Carmel, IN dental practice, we offer dental implants, bridges, and dentures. Of the three, dental implants are the superior option; we offer dental bridges and dentures because not all patients are suitable candidates for dental implants. However, many of our patients also view dental bridges and dentures as a more cost-effective means of dealing with missing teeth.
While it is true that these restorations have a lower upfront cost than dental implants, the compromises in performance, potentially dangerous drawbacks, and need to regularly replace them makes the decision more complicated than it seems. As the old saying goes, “The sweetness of a lower price is lost to the bitterness of a lower value.”
Dentures: Compromises in Performance
Dentures are perhaps the most well-known form of dental prosthetic; we offer high quality natural looking dentures to our patients who need them, because they approximate the appearance of natural teeth much better than more conventional dentures and therefore provide a better value.
However, if you don’t have to get dentures (because you are well enough to undergo oral surgery and able to support dental implants), your best option is to steer clear and go for dental implants.
Dentures, no matter how well they improve your appearance, do not come close to dental implants in terms of performance. In this context, performance refers to your ability to eat and speak. Chewing food and speaking depend upon a strong bite. Tooth loss will permanently reduce your bite strength; there’s no getting around it, so your bite needs to be restored. Dentures depend upon fit to stay in place (more on this later), and that’s it. Even with adhesive strips supplementing them, dentures simply don’t allow for an efficient transfer of bite power to the food you need to chew. You will get your bite strength back, but only 20%, and sometimes as low as 10%.
Dental implants on the other hand are embedded directly into your jawbone, beneath your gums. In fact, during the healing process following your implant placement, the implants virtually become part of your anatomy as your jawbone fuses with the implant, a process referred to as osseointegration. This means a much more efficient transfer of power from your jaws and jaw muscles, through the implant, and into the food you’re chewing. Dental implants can be expected to restore at least 90% of your bite strength (if not more). This means no change to your lifestyle and diet. You can live just as you did prior to your implant (with much more attention paid to oral hygiene, of course).
Dentures and Bridges: Increased Risk of Infection
Dentures and bridges present the risk of serious infection that dental implants do not.
Dentures and Infection
Dentures, as mentioned earlier, depend upon their fit to stay in place. For dentures to work, they must interact properly with your oral tissues and even some of your remaining teeth to stay in place. If the fit is lost (and it isn’t really a question of if, but when; changes to your body such as weight loss or gain can significantly change the shape of your oral cavity), your dentures will start to slip and slide in your mouth. Not only can this lead to embarrassing moments (dentures that slide completely out of your mouth, or dentures that create a telltale clicking sound when you speak, yawn, or laugh), but it can lead to serious infections. All that slipping and sliding causes a lot of rubbing between the dentures and your oral tissues and teeth. This can create mouth sores, which are portals for bacteria to enter your body; it can also invite tooth decay (due to the rubbing off of enamel).
Bridges and Infection
Dental bridges can also present a serious risk of infection and tooth decay. Bridges depend upon (usually) two crowns, which are placed on the teeth on either side of the gap (bridges are used to replace one, two, or three teeth); these teeth are called the abutment teeth, and the crowns support artificial teeth in the gap. The risk of infection comes when the bridge is placed: it is very common that a bridge won’t fit precisely how it should in the gap, and this means that your healthy teeth must be filed down considerably to make them fit properly. This removes enamel, which is your best defense against tooth decay and oral bacteria. When it’s gone, it’s gone; you can’t replace your enamel on your own, nor is there an artificial equivalent.
Need For Continuous Replacement
Dental implants are permanent in the truest sense of the word; one placed, they will last as long as you do. Dentures lose their fit frequently, and must be replaced, and dental bridges, while “more permanent” than dentures, are supposed to last around ten years, but in most cases, the longevity of a dental bridge is closer to five or seven years. Every time you have a new bridge placed, or you are fitted for new dentures, these can be rolled into the total cost of having them.
Want to Learn More About Dental Implants?
When you consider the financial cost, risk of infection, and the time spend required, why not just go the “one and done” route with dental implants?
Give us a call to learn more; you don’t have to live with the pain and embarrassment of tooth loss!
Dial 317-451-4050 or click here to reach our online appointment form to book your visit right now!