Dentures and Bridges and Implants, Oh My!

***UPDATED: December 17, 2013*** Dentists typically recommend that missing teeth be replaced, for both aesthetic and medical reasons.  Physically, a missing tooth can cause the other teeth in the mouth to shift, and over time the jaw bone may actually begin to shrink, causing a slew of other issues.  It is a long-time thought by dental professionals that patients will also benefit from improved self-confidence and esteem once a missing tooth has been replaced, and a new study confirms this belief.  The UK-based research included interviews of 39 men and women, aged 25 to 80, about their experiences with missing teeth.  While some of the participants claimed that their tooth loss was fairly insignificant, a number stated that it had been devastating, with many comparing it to the loss of a limb.  Multiple individuals discussed a severe impact on their quality of life as they were so embarrassed, they chose not to leave the house.  Previously, tooth replacement was not viewed as necessary as other procedures, like knee replacements for example, but after this study, some are calling for a more serious discussion about the importance of restorative dentistry.

It is widely believed that permanent tooth loss occurs primarily in seniors.  This is simply not true, according to Eveline Gan’s article, “Don’t Grin and bear it: What can you do if you have missing teeth?” published recently on the TODAYonline website.  Research actually shows that about one out of every five individuals will lose their first permanent tooth between the ages of 21 and 30.  Despite your age, losing a permanent tooth can not only be painful, but embarrassing too.  And there are several reasons why filling the new gap in your mouth is a good idea.

In addition to aesthetic reasons for repairing your smile, periodontist Dr. Marlene Teo shares that there are many health reasons to replace missing teeth in a timely fashion.  Without replacement, adjacent teeth can drift into the space causing issues with a person’s bite.  Also, if the replacement doesn’t occur within three months, the jaw bone begins to shrink, causing difficulties with dental implants or dentures later on.  In order to take advantage of all of your options, you should act fast.

According to experts, there are three general replacement methods; dentures, bridges, and implants. Every situation is as unique as the individual in it, so there’s no one “right” way.  The best option for you will depend on not only your preference, but also on your health, jawbone quality, and how much you are willing to spend.  There are pros and cons to all three procedures and you should discuss each of them with your cosmetic dentist.   In the past, a toothless smile was treated much more conventionally, but today your options are diverse, allowing you to feel and look your absolute best.

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