Missing teeth are a problem for hundreds of millions of Americans and the problem is particularly a concern for older Americans. The majority of Americans over the age of 65 have lost six or more of their natural teeth and about 20 percent have no natural teeth left at all. Replacing missing teeth is very important because studies have shown that missing teeth lead to poor diet and lower overall health.
A fixed bridge has long been one of the primary methods of replacing one or more missing teeth, but in recent years dental implants have become the preferred method for replacing missing teeth. Dental implants are permanently implanted in the patient’s jaw bone and provide support for a single prosthetic tooth or to replace several adjacent missing teeth.
Dental implants look, feel, and act just like natural teeth. They can last a lifetime and also stimulate bone growth and eliminate problems with bone loss in the jaw associated with other tooth replacement options such as a fixed bridge
Another problem with a fixed bridge is that it must be supported by two adjacent healthy teeth. A bridge is essentially two caps or crowns attached to either side of one or more prosthetic teeth. The healthy teeth on either side of the missing teeth have to be ground down to allow the bridge to be placed on them. This process weakens the two otherwise healthy teeth to provide the support needed for the bridge.
With dental implants, no healthy teeth are compromised. The implants are placed in the bone at the site of the missing teeth and the replacement teeth are attached to the implants instead of adjacent healthy teeth. Finally a bridge usually has to be replaced after 5 to 10 years while a dental implant can last for a lifetime.
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