Tooth loss is extremely common whether due to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay. While many of us have lost at least one adult tooth, by age 74, about a quarter of Americans lose all of their adult teeth. When you lose a tooth, replacement is essential for several reasons:
- to keep the rest of your teeth aligned
- to restore proper occlusion and ability to chew
- to maintain your facial shape
- to avoid difficulties with eating or speaking
While partial dentures* are an option for replacing several missing teeth, the two most common options used by dentists today are dental bridges and implants. Each has pros and cons.
If you have one or more missing teeth, your Fort Lauderdale cosmetic dentist may suggest a bridge. A dental bridge, as the name implies, literally “bridges” the space between teeth that results from a missing tooth or teeth. Unlike implants that replace your tooth root, a bridge uses teeth on either side of the missing tooth as anchors for attaching a crown that fills the space of the missing tooth or teeth.
Dental bridge pros
- Density: Jawbone density is not a problem.
- Nonsurgical: You won’t require surgery.
- Price: It usually costs less than implants.
- Less invasive: You can easily replace a tooth that has been missing for a while.
- Insurance: It is covered by most dental insurance companies
Dental bridge cons
- Jawbone deterioration: They don’t replace the root of your tooth, thereby causing the jawbone to degenerate more quickly.
- Affects neighboring teeth: The crowned teeth neighboring the space can be more vulnerable to decay.
- Short lifespan: A bridge usually only lasts eight to 15 years before you will need to get it replaced.
Another treatment option for replacing one or more missing teeth your dentist may suggest is a dental implant. When placing a dental implant, your dentist in Fort Lauderdale will first evaluate the treatment area to check if your jawbone is strong enough to support an implant. Because implants naturally fuse to your jawbone, you need sufficient bone for an implant. The second step is the dental implant procedure, where your dentist uses a surgical drill to insert the metal implant into your jawbone.
Over the next few months, your implants attach to your jawbone during a process called osseointegration. Once your implant is fully integrated into your jaw bone, an abutment, a small connector, is placed on the implant and an impression is taken to create your custom replacement tooth/ teeth. This replacement may be an individual crown to replace one tooth, an implant-supported bridge to replace several teeth, or an implant-support denture to replace all teeth missing in an arch.
Dental implant pros
- Easy to take care of: They require little maintenance.
- Long-lasting: When they’re high-quality, they can last a lifetime.
- Keep your smile confident: Dental implants are stable and secure. They feel, look and function like a natural tooth.
- Prevent bone loss: Not only do implants protect your jawbone, but they preserve and stimulate natural bone growth.
- Help protect surrounding teeth: They can stand on their own without having to put a strain on your other teeth.
Dental implant cons
- Surgery: Your dentist will have to surgically attach the implant to the bone. There are always risks involved with any surgical procedure, including nerve damage, infection, jaw fractures, damage to surrounding teeth and more.
- Time: The entire implant procedure can take a few months.
- Cost: The cost varies depending on the condition of your tooth and the type of implant you receive.
- Insurance. It may or may not be covered by insurance.
If you have one or more missing teeth and are looking for the best cosmetic dentist in Fort Lauderdale, call Excellence in Dentistry at 954-928-1666 to schedule a consultation to discuss your treatment options. Dr. Nancy Rotroff and Dr. Gerard Wasselle are here for all of your family's dental needs.
*A dentist may recommend a partial denture when the teeth surrounding your missing tooth aren’t strong enough to support a bridge. Partial dentures are usually made of plastic and metal. They fill gaps from one or several missing teeth. Partials are generally cheaper than bridges or implants, and usually aren’t as comfortable or stable.