Missing teeth can lead to oral problems, but implants and bridges can restore your smile and improve your overall dental health.
Few people will make it through life with a full set of teeth. By the age of 50, the average person has lost 12 permanent teeth to gum disease, injury or decay. Losing your teeth affects your smile and can also alter your bite and weaken your jawbone.
There is no reason to let that happen. Advances in prosthetic dentistry have made it possible to fill the spaces with implants and bridges that are functional and attractive. Missing teeth affects your appearance and overall oral health.
An implant is generally the preferred option for replacing a single tooth. Placing an implant requires careful preparation to assess the amount of bone where the implant will be placed to make sure that there will be adequate support for the implanted tooth.
Tehachapi dentist, Jose David Sanchez will take CT scans of your teeth to see the shape and amount of bone available for the implant. If your jawbone is adequate, Dr. Sanchez will make a model of your jaw to simulate the implant before performing the procedure. Doing this can improve the accuracy of placement and minimize the amount of tissue disrupted during the implant procedure.
If your jawbone won’t support an implant, Dr. Sanchez may augment it with bone or a bone-like material in a surgical procedure (bone graft). You will need to wait several months for the bone to heal before receiving the implant.
Next is the placement of a titanium screw which replaces the tooth root in your jaw. The screw will be fitted with a cap that looks like a small stud in your gum. During the next several weeks, your jawbone will grow around the screw to firmly anchor it in place and heal your gum.
Lastly, Dr. Sanchez will make sure the implant is firmly in place. He will remove the screw cap and replace it with a titanium abutment. A porcelain crown that has been designed to match your surrounding teeth will be cemented or screwed onto the abutment.
A dental bridge consists of artificial teeth fused to a metal frame. It is a good option for replacing several teeth. The frame is cemented to supports, either implants or healthy teeth that have been covered by crowns. The more teeth being replaced, the more natural teeth or implants are needed to give the bridge the necessary support.
The Maryland bridge is a variation in which the dentist attaches the bridge by gluing thin metal or ceramic strips to the backs of nearby teeth. It is used to replace a single tooth in the front of the mouth when there isn’t enough room for an implant.
Getting a bridge is a shorter process than getting an implant, but still requires several visits. The first visit will is for imaging and impressions the second is for preparing the supporting teeth for crowns and fitting a temporary bridge, and another for fitting the permanent bridge.
Tehachapi dentist, Dr. Sanchez can advise you on which option is best for you after considering the state of your teeth, jawbone and gums, as well as your overall health. It’s important to let Dr. Sanchez know whether you have any chronic conditions like diabetes, which can affect healing, as well as all of the drugs you are taking.
Implants and bridges, though the best choices, are not inexpensive. You can expect to pay thousands of dollars to replace a single tooth with either option.