If you are one of the hundreds of Americans who are missing one or more teeth, it is important to replace missing teeth to not only maintain your confident smile, but also to maintain your overall health. Missing teeth have been linked to a decline in overall health, especially in older Americans. Good oral health habits and regular preventative dental care to preserve your natural teeth is the best option, but when it becomes necessary to replace one or more missing teeth, there are essentially four options: a bridge, partial dentures, full dentures, and implants.
The goals of tooth replacement include stabilizing the remaining teeth by filling in the gap left by the missing teeth, improving the appearance of your smile, stopping bone loss, and providing a solid and stable chewing and biting surface.
Only dental implants do all four of these things well. A dental implant is implanted in the jaw bone and performs exactly like a natural tooth. A dental implant fills the gap left by the missing tooth, looks like a natural tooth, provides a sturdy chewing and biting surface, and stimulates bone growth.
A permanent bridge consists of a cap on each tooth adjacent to the missing tooth with an artificial tooth suspended between them. A permanent bridge is nearly on par with a dental implant, but it does not do a very good job of stopping bone loss.
A partial denture, sometimes called a removable dental bridge fills the space left by the missing tooth, but does not provide the same sturdy chewing surface of dental implants or a permanent bridge. A partial denture is even less effective at preventing bone loss than a permanent bridge.
Full dentures are the least effective of all the tooth replacement alternatives. They are prone to slipping which causes many wearers to be self-conscious about their smile. In addition, because of their instability many denture wearers have a hard time learning to eat solid food with dentures. They do very little to prevent bone loss which causes the denture wearer’s face to shrink over time.
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