Tooth loss, obviously, causes significant changes to the appearance of the mouth, face and in many cases also can affect a person’s self esteem. What most people don’t know is that the loss of teeth may cause the structures that support the teeth to degenerate, compromising the health of the teeth on either side of the gap. In addition, tooth loss may have a significant effect on the overall health of an individual by impacting their eating habits.
Many people who experience tooth loss will choose to have a Los Angeles implant dentist replace their teeth in order to remedy this problem, and they have a number of options to choose from.
I would like to focus on just one – dental implants – and explore how this solution measures up against other options in both cosmetic and functional respects.
Dental Implants: What Are They?
A dental implant is a small metal rod that is secured to the bone in order to replace the normal tooth root and provide an anchor for a dental crown. The result is a very secure “tooth” that very accurately mimics the original tooth in both appearance and function. Dental implants are maintained in the same way as natural teeth.
How They Compare
The most common alternatives to dental implant surgeries in Los Angeles include dentures, dental bridges, and, in some cases, dental veneers or crowns. Here is a breakdown of how these options compare:
- Dental Implants vs. Dentures: The most significant difference between dentures and dental implants is that dentures rest above the gum line, and are essentially disconnected from the deeper support structures of the jaw. Especially for patients with a large number of teeth missing, these structures can start to erode as soon as there is nothing for them to support. Aesthetically, dentures also tend to look fake and may impede speech, while a Los Angeles dental implant looks and functions like a normal tooth. In addition, patients with dental implants are often more self-confident because they feel like they have their natural teeth, which is not the case with dentures.
- Dental Implants vs. Dental Bridges: As a Los Angeles implant dentist, I find that bridges and dentures are appropriate in certain cases where the patient has insufficient bone density to support an implant. However, this situation can be remedied with bone grafts in many cases. In the long run, dental implants usually have significant functional advantages over bridges, which, like dentures, lack a substitute for the tooth root. Furthermore, in the case of a bridge the dentist must cut and prepare the adjacent teeth to have a crown made to replace a missing tooth.
- Dental Implants vs. Veneers and Crowns: Dental veneers and crowns are only an appropriate “solution” to tooth damage or partial tooth loss in a few select circumstances where the tooth is free of any remaining dental or periodontal disease and the root is strong enough to support the tooth relatively well. However, in many cases, whatever caused the tooth damage also compromised the integrity of the supporting bone and tissues. In most cases, total replacement of the tooth is a wiser choice for dental health and function, as well as the final cosmetic effect.