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February 2016

Dental Implants: Is it worth the investment?

“Dental Implants” are two of the most common words one hears from a dentist now-a-days. For those of you who haven’t heard about it yet, a dental implant, in very simple words; is a titanium screw which is inserted into your bone so that your missing tooth can be replaced.

Replacement of missing teeth is beneficial for maintaining oral health.
Bridges and dental implants are the 2 ways by which missing teeth can be fixed in the mouth.

As the name suggests, a dental bridge “bridges” the gap created by the missing tooth by taking support from the two adjacent teeth. A dental implant however replaces the missing tooth in its entirety, root as well as crown of the tooth. Thus it does not require the support of adjacent teeth to remain fixed in the jaw as it is fixed in the jaw bone.

The decision between choosing a bridge vs a dental implant should not be based only on the cost of either. There are many pros of dental implants that the bridge cannot even compete with.

Bridges are assumed to be the “cheaper” option to replace missing teeth. If you are against dental implants only for financial reasons, consider the long term benefits (and potential cost savings) before choosing your option.

implant vs bridge
Dental Implant Vs Bridge

Dental implants and planning for them has come a long way since its inception. Imaging technology allows us to view 3D images of the patient’s jaws which helps in accurate planning and prediction of the outcome of implant placement. Newer methods of implant placement have enabled us in placing implants where, previously it was deemed impossible to do so. It is possible to place implants and the crown above it immediately after tooth extraction. It is also possible to replace all your teeth in as less as 4 dental implants. That too in one day!

 

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Missing tooth : To replace or not to?

Why, you may ask, is replacement of teeth necessary? Those patients who think that not replacing a tooth is also a good option – Beware! Because the space created by the missing tooth gets filled by excessive eruption of the tooth above/ below it and tilting of the teeth in front of and behind the missing tooth. So you might have 3 more teeth that need treatment later on.

Consequence of missing teeth
Consequences of not replacing missing tooth

Not only do the missing teeth affect the other adjacent teeth but also cause discomfort in chewing and alteration of food habits. The chewing efficiency of people with multiple missing teeth and denture wearers is greatly reduced; making simple, functional tasks like eating difficult. Around 98% of people with multiple missing teeth and denture wearers prefer to eat soft mushy foods. Faulty chewing habits may also lead to problems in digestion.

Multiple missing teeth cause atrophy of the jaw bones in that region, leading to change in facial appearance and a seemingly “old face”. Such an appearance is due to increased hollowing of the cheeks and increased wrinkles around the mouth. Multiple missing teeth and resulting decreased support for jaw closure may also lead to pain or discomfort in the jaw joint (Temporomandibular Joint).

Replacing the missing tooth/ teeth with a denture or bridge or dental implant maintains the position of the other adjacent teeth and also prevents the undesirable consequences thereof.

So when do you plan to put that tooth back in!??

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