Replacing a Single Tooth
This method of tooth replacement can be very esthetic and functional for a period of time. However, a tooth supported bridge does not replace the bone that previously surrounded the root. Since there is no longer a root to hold the bone in place, the bone deteriorates, or melts away. This process is called bone resorption. The impact of deteriorating bone from complete tooth loss includes collapsed facial profiles, lost lip support, increased wrinkles around the mouth and the appearance of a pointed nose and chin that are too close together.
A removable prosthesis, such as a n essix or “flipper”, actually accelerates the bone resorption process, resulting in more rapid bone deterioration. In addition, the clasps which hold the appliance in place put extreme pressure on the natural teeth they hook onto, loosening them and in many cases, eventually leading to the loss of those teeth. Most patients with partial dentures state that they are uncomfortable and that they rarely wear them. Cemented bridges involve the filing and fixture of materials over the surfaces of adjacent teeth. In addition to bone loss, cemented bridges cause decay and shadowing under the gums.
The bone can be preserved by replacing missing tooth roots with multiple teeth implants and the existing teeth can be left alone. Since the bone actually forms a strong bond to the implants, they can serve the same functions as natural tooth roots: a strong foundation for biting and chewing and stimulation for the bone to hold it in place. Dental implants are small and made of titanium, a biocompatible material that is not rejected by the body. With an overall success rate of 95% and over, with an additional 50+ years of clinical research, dental implants have the best long-term prognosis of any method of tooth replacement.
The advantages to replacing a single missing tooth with an implant supported crown:
- It looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth
- It does not decay
- There is no need to grind down the adjacent natural teeth
- The bone is preserved, preventing a visible bony defect
- It is more hygienic (easier to clean) than a tooth supported bridge