According to the American College of Prosthodontists, over 50% of people in the United States are missing at least one tooth due to gum disease, tooth decay or injury. And the problems are felt just as much in Georgia as anywhere. If you’re missing one or more, you’ve probably thought about getting a replacement before, but don’t know which option is right for you – or if you can even afford it. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you every step of the way.
First of all, why should I replace my missing teeth? Obviously everyone loves a nice toothy smile, but don’t forget the real reason we have teeth – for chewing our food. And for each missing tooth, you lose about 10% of your chewing ability. Your jaw is designed to operate with 28 teeth and as soon as one is out of the equation, the surrounding teeth start to drift into the empty space. This not only makes your good teeth more prone to decay and gum disease, but it can also change your appearance. Because after an extraction, the bone that supports the teeth begins to shrink over time and your face adjusts with it. Of course no one wants to look and feel older than they really are! But the longer you wait after a tooth is extracted, the more bone volume you lose. And the more bone volume you lose, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to get teeth replaced.
There are plenty of options to replace missing teeth. But finding the option that works best for you requires a look at your dental health and some collaboration between you and your doctor.
The long-lasting option: Dental Implants.
If you are missing teeth and your gums and jaw are healthy, you may benefit from dental implants, which are replacement teeth that are implanted surgically into the jawbone. With good oral hygiene, dental implants can last for 20 years or more without the need for replacement. Dental implants are often a popular choice for people who have only one or two teeth missing, but they can be an alternative to dentures if you have several missing teeth. As long as your gums and jaw are healthy, two or more implants can serve as a base of support for several replacement teeth.
Dental implants are generally the most expensive option but for patients with good oral health, they are likely going to be your best choice to avoid further tooth decay or loss. Whenever you replace a tooth, you hope it’ll be the last time. Dental implants give you the best chance of keeping your remaining healthy teeth.
Another option is a fixed bridge.
If you’re just replacing a single tooth and have healthy gums, a fixed bridge might be a less expensive option for you. These normally last about 10-12 years. In order to make a bridge, the adjacent teeth are prepared by reducing their size and then prosthetic teeth are placed over the existing teeth and empty space. The problem with fixed bridges is the irreversible damage they do to your adjacent teeth. In the end, you might end up paying for it with more expensive dental work and more implants, bridges or more missing teeth.
The classic choice: Dentures.
Most people who have heard of dentures (a.k.a false teeth) have also heard that they can be a nuisance – slipping while speaking, discomfort while chewing and of course soaking them by your bed every night – but dentures have come a long way in recent years. Most commonly when people think of dentures, they think of complete dentures which are recommended when a patient is missing all of his/her teeth or has weakened bone. Partial dentures are dentures that only replace some of your teeth. They rely on the surrounding teeth for support, and so can cause additional damage to those surrounding teeth and gums. Implant supported dentures are recommended when a patient is missing all of his/her teeth but has a healthy enough jaw to support implants.
What will it cost you? That really depends on which option you and your dentist decide on together, as well as how much your insurance will cover. If you’re currently without insurance, we offer a comprehensive dental plan and accept CareCredit at all of our locations. Call us today to set up an appointment and let us help you replace your missing teeth!