If you’re looking into tooth replacement, a knowledgeable restorative dentist in Jacksonville, Florida, can help you decide on the best approach.
People lose teeth for a number of reasons — advanced gum disease, severe tooth decay, teeth grinding, sports injuries and car crashes are just a few of the causes. So, there’s certainly no need to be embarrassed about asking a dentist to restore the beauty of your smile.
However, tooth replacement isn’t just about aesthetics. Living with a gap in your grin can lead to a misaligned or imbalanced bite, as the teeth adjacent to the gap will slowly shift toward that space. Misalignment can bring about other concerns, including difficulties with eating and jaw joint pain. Fortunately, as restorative dentistry has continued to evolve, the options for replacing a missing tooth have grown.
A dental implant, removable partial denture or fixed bridge could make your smile as good as new. Each tooth replacement option has its pros and cons – here’s what you need to know to make the right choice.
A dental implant works to replace the entire structure of a missing tooth, from the root to the crown. Implants have three parts – the post, which is placed within the jawbone, the restoration, or the visible portion of the tooth, and an abutment to connect the post to the crown.
Widely considered to be the best solution for missing teeth, dental implants offer several advantages. Going with an implant means getting an artificial tooth that:
- Is virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth in terms of looks, fit and function
- Mimics the natural root structure, encouraging the growth of bone tissue in the jaw
- Has restored your smile without compromising the integrity of the nearby healthy teeth
- Requires no special care, just brushing and flossing as usual along with routine dental visits
With proper care and attention, dental implants can last a lifetime. This tooth replacement option doesn’t present many drawbacks, but there are a few to consider:
- Before a dental implant can be placed, a bone graft may be needed to strengthen the jaw
- The procedure to get a dental implant can be lengthy, particularly if you lost the tooth long ago
- Compared to other options for tooth replacement, the initial cost of an implant is higher
Fixed Dental Bridge
A fixed dental bridge, as the name suggests, acts to bridge the gap between two teeth. Restorative dentists offer a few types – including traditional dental bridges, cantilever bridges and Maryland bridges – all of which feature an artificial tooth that is cemented or bonded in place.
For some people in the Jacksonville area, a fixed dental bridge can be the right tooth replacement option. The upsides to getting a bridge include:
- Having a fully functional smile that looks great, without the need for dental surgery
- Spending less on tooth replacement, as bridges tend to be less expensive than implants
- Getting a gap-free grin in a faster time, with treatment typically taking just a few weeks
Fixed dental bridges aren’t the first choice for most Jacksonville dentists, and that’s because bridges have a few significant disadvantages. The negatives include:
- Bridges use the nearby healthy teeth for support, leaving them at a greater risk of decay
- In cases where the adjacent teeth lack sufficient strength, a fixed dental bridge can collapse
- The root of a missing tooth remains missing with a bridge, leading to bone loss in the jaw
- With time, a bridge can loosen or become dislodged, and some last for less than a decade
Removable Partial Denture
For the replacement of a single missing tooth, two types of removable partial dentures are available – a flipper, which isn’t all that durable and, therefore, serves only as a cosmetic tooth replacement option, and a traditional denture, which offers both aesthetic and functional benefits.
With the latter type of removable denture, the artificial tooth is attached to a base, which fits snugly in the mouth. Some people prefer this option because:
- The appearance of the smile can be fully restored, while also improving mouth function
- The process of getting a removable partial denture requires a minimal amount of treatment time
- In comparison to implants and bridges, this is the cheapest tooth replacement option
While there are pluses, removable partial dentures aren’t without flaws. The reasons to consider another method of tooth replacement include:
- Traditional partials feel noticeably different from the natural teeth, and it can take time to adjust
- With no tooth root structure, a removable denture does nothing to halt bone loss in the jaw
- Unlike dental implants and fixed bridges, partial dentures must be removed each night for cleaning
- The lifespan of a removable partial denture is short, and many need replaced in 5 to 10 years
Which Tooth Replacement Option Is Right for You?
As we mentioned, dental implants are the gold standard for missing teeth – but no tooth replacement option is right for everyone.
For an expert opinion on the approach you should take, turn to the professional team at River Oaks Dental. We specialize in both cosmetic and restorative dentistry, and we’re the go-to source for dental implants, fixed dental bridges and removable partial dentures. Contact our dentist office in Richmond, Virginia, to discuss your tooth replacement options today!