For some people, a missing tooth might not seem like a pressing problem. Sure, if the tooth in question is an anterior tooth (visible when you smile), then you would have had it replaced immediately after its loss (with a dental implant being the preferred option). But if it was a posterior tooth, such as a molar or premolar, then you may not have seen the urgency of replacement. As the years go by, the importance of replacing the tooth can become more obvious. But by this point, a dental implant may not be your preferred option.
Fewer Teeth, Extra Work
As any dentist will tell you, the prompt replacement of any missing tooth is very much in your best interests. Your teeth work in harmony with each other, and fewer teeth mean extra work for the remaining teeth. This can hasten the deterioration of these remaining teeth, particularly those adjacent to the gap. It's more complicated to place a dental implant when the gap has been present for an extended period of time.
Although you might still hope to receive a dental implant, the specifics of the process may lead you to change your mind. When a tooth is lost, the bone supporting it undergoes some changes. Without the stimulation of the tooth, the jaw immediately beneath the dental socket will lose density. This must be reversed so that the bone has adequate density, and this involves bone grafting.
The very fact that a long-absent tooth may require multiple dental surgeries can deter some patients from receiving a dental implant. You will need to have bone grafting material placed in your jaw. This grafting material can be extracted from your own jaw, or it may be donor material or a synthetic substitute. The bone will then densify, but this takes several months. Then you will require additional surgery to place the implant, and once the implant has stabilized (again, taking a number of months), it will be finished with a prosthetic tooth. Numerous surgeries, spread out over the better part of a year can be enough to make some patients want to explore alternative tooth replacement options. Ask your dentist about dental bridges.
Bridging the Gap
A traditional dental bridge is when the prosthetic tooth bridges the gap between your natural teeth, sitting atop your gums instead of being implanted in your jaw. The natural teeth on either side are reinforced with dental crowns so they can support the bridge. There's no surgery, and aside from some brief sensitivity in the days following the procedure, there's no recovery time. This makes dental bridges far less intensive than implants. A bridge has reduced bite pressure when compared to an implant, but since no surgery is necessary, it can be the superior option for patients who are hesitant to commit to the surgeries and recovery time required for bone grafting and implant placement.
When your tooth has been missing for some years, remember that you will probably need bone grafting before an implant can be placed. This is why you should ask your dentist about instead providing you with a dental bridge in order to restore your bite.
For more information on dental bridges, contact a professional near you.Share