June 9, 2015
There is nothing like a missing tooth (or as in some cases, teeth) to change your life significantly for the worse. Teeth that have been lost have a negative impact on your appearance as well as your self-confidence, but that probably goes without saying. What may not be so obvious are how missing teeth affect the teeth that are left. Missing teeth can cause problems with the alignment of your jaw, leading to damaged teeth that are prone to infection and disease. You will also notice difficulty when you speak, or chew food (any food). You will lose bone density in the area where you used to have teeth (on top of any bone loss that likely caused your tooth to fall out), and the teeth that are left will even begin to move around, causing further alignment issues and ruining the natural shape of your face (giving you a “drooping” caved-in look).
In our Marrero, LA dental practice, we see every day the impact of missing one or more teeth. It’s more tragic when you realize that for the most part, losing your teeth can be easily avoided with good oral hygiene (twice a day brushing, flossing, and mouthwash rinsing) and regular visits twice a year to your dentist’s office (for deep cleaning and examinations). This because the overwhelming majority of teeth that are lost in the US aren’t due to calamitous injury, but disease (most often, periodontal or gum disease).
If you’re in the unfortunate position of having lost teeth (while gaining gaps in your smile), we have the solutions that can help you get your smile back, and your life as well. Dental implants can permanently replace lost teeth, with no compromises in performance or appearance. However, many people have some reservations about dental implants due to a perception that more conventional restorations, like dentures, have a lower up front cost than implants. This may be “solid math” when you’re in the grocery store, but when it comes to your teeth and oral health, you might want to consider the “total cost” of dentures versus the upfront cost of dental implants.
Seeing the Value of Dental Implants
If you were presented with a choice where cost is not an issue, wouldn’t you make the choice that provides the best value, because you don’t need to compromise?
Case Study: Dental Implants Vs. Dentures
Dental implants are simply more effective than conventional dentures you might consider because of their perceived lower cost. Keep in mind that dentures (and dental bridges, for that matter) are still effective ways to address tooth loss; it is a possibility that even if you know you want implants you may not get them, due to the condition of your oral and general health, and other factors.
If you are able to get dental implants, they really are your best bet, in terms of performance (in this case, your ability to chew and grind food, speak, and maintain the face of your shape and keep the jaws in proper alignment).
The Shortcomings of Conventional Dentures
Dentures are a form of prosthesis that simulate the appearance of natural teeth and gums. When they are fitted properly, they look fairly close to normal teeth (certainly to a point where no one would be able to tell the difference if they weren’t looking for it), and they do provide a limited degree of functionality and performance. However, traditional dentures put serious limits on your lifestyle. Dentures will allow only 10% to 20% of your natural bite strength, which at the very least will reduce your diet to foods that can be easily chewed.
When dentures lose their fit (this is a matter of when, not if), they can cause serious problems that range from the inconvenient to dangerous. For dentures to work their best, a good fit is critical because dentures depend on your oral tissues and teeth to stay in place (adhesives are also used to supplement this support). Dentures can lose their fit for a number of reasons, but mostly it is due to the natural changes that occur in your oral tissues and the “shape” of your oral cavity (mouth) that take place over time. One example that most people find surprising is that simply losing weight, while a worthwhile undertaking for your overall health, leads to considerable change in the structure of your oral tissues. Once the fit is lost, it is lost.
This leads to the first major drawback of dentures. Dentures must be constantly replaced, which over many sets of dentures represents a considerable investment of time and money. You may have paid less upfront for your dentures when you first got them, but you will be saddled with additional costs for long after. This fact isn’t lost on the majority of denture-wearers, who will avoid replacing their dentures for as long as possible. That is why it is common for dentures to slip and slide.
Dentures that slip and slide have a strong tendency to fall out, which is humiliating. It also causes the telltale “clicking” sound that many people associate with people who wear dentures. Finally, all that movement creates a lot of rubbing and friction between your teeth, oral tissues, and the dentures. This can cause mouth sores and serious infections in your teeth and gums; if this happens, those problems will need to be addressed, and you can add those costs to the “total cost” of wearing conventional dentures.
How Are Dental Implants Better?
Dental implants do not have the drawback of dentures; as we mentioned earlier, dentures require a precise, solid fit so that the prostheses can interact correctly with your oral tissues and teeth. This design is necessary because dentures must be removed frequently by the wearer for maintenance and cleaning (which is another added cost of dentures, by the way, as well as the adhesives that help your dentures stay in place).
Dental implants do not require removal for cleaning. In fact, you can’t remove them at all! That is because dental implants are surgically placed, directly into your jawbone and beneath your gums (getting dental implants does require surgery; if you aren’t comfortable with this, or you can’t tolerate general anesthesia, you may not be a good candidate for implants).
Over time, the implant will actually merge with the bone in your jaw, increasing their steadfast hold. Because the implants do not move, you will experience no loss in performance (you will have full bite strength), and you won’t have to deal with the embarrassment as when dentures fall out of your mouth. Additionally, because there is no movement, there is no risk for additional infection as a result of the implants. In fact, dental implants can actually increase your overall oral health because it actually promotes the regrowth of the bone in your jaw!
Finally, dental implants are permanent in the realest possible sense. Dentures need perpetual replacement, but your dental implants (with proper care) will last you the rest of your life.
Do you see how the “value” of dental implants exceeds the “savings” from the lower upfront cost of conventional dentures?
Considering Your Options For Missing Teeth?
The choice is clear: dental implants are simply the better, more valuable solution, if you can get them. Only your dentist can help you determine if dental implants are right for you.
Call us today for a consultation! Dial 504-264-6461 or click here for our online appointment form.
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