If you are missing teeth, or have been told you need to replace one or more teeth, you have probably been weighing the pros and cons of dentures vs. dental implants. While both options can provide you with a natural looking smile, there are other factors to consider in your decision.
If you are missing only one or a few teeth, you may consider replacing them with a bridge: a partial denture that is either fixed or removable. If fixed, the device is attached directly to neighboring teeth, or to crowns that are placed on adjacent teeth. For full mouth replacement, full dentures are often considered, and are a more affordable choice than dental implants for tooth replacement. And they have come a long way: dentures are stronger and more natural looking than ever before. They may take some getting used to at first, especially while eating and speaking, but for some are a promising option.
But FIRST: let’s talk about bone remodeling:
The human body is in a constant state of bone remodeling, which helps to maintain bone strength. Bone remodeling is a lifelong process where bone tissue is removed from the skeleton, and replaced with new bone tissue. According to Wolff’s law, bone is stimulated, strengthened, and continually renewed directly by a tooth or an implant. Wolff’s Law, developed by the German anatomist and surgeon Julius Wolff in the 19th century, states that bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed. If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading. For example, a tennis player’s bones in the arm that holds the racket become much stronger than those in the other arm. But the inverse is true as well: if the loading on a bone decreases, the bone will become less dense and weaker due to the lack of the stimulus required for continued remodeling.
This principle applies to the bones that hold your teeth in place. When teeth are missing, the bones that held those teeth in place will adapt to the lack of loads placed on them, and begin to resorb, or break down, causing loss of bone. Bone loss with missing teeth is progressive, and occurs to the lower jaw faster than the upper jaw. That means that if you replace missing teeth with dentures, eventually the jaw bone will begin to resorb, making a stable fit difficult to maintain over time. In addition, a mouth with no teeth begins to “overclose”, causing the cheeks to exhibit a “sunken-in” appearance, and new wrinkle lines to form.
More bad news:
Unfortunately, there are other potential problems associated with traditional dentures. If you are considering a partial denture to replace one or more teeth, you should know that there is a much higher rate of failure over time than with dental implants. And if they do fail there is an increased chance that you will also face the loss of the “abutment teeth”, the teeth that are next to the bridge, due to cavities or fractures where the partials contact the teeth.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Dental implants stop progressive bone loss, and stabilize the bone over the long term. Implanted teeth provide stable, effective tooth replacement that feels natural, and provide an improved ability to chew and speak comfortably. AND, implants can also be used to stabilize a denture, which increases denture function and stability, as well as dramatically reducing bone loss that is often seen with traditional dentures over time. Dental implants are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, and can smile with confidence, knowing that teeth appear natural, and that facial contours will be preserved. The implants are tiny titanium posts which are placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. In addition, dental implants can help preserve facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration which occurs when teeth are missing.
Computer Guided Dental Implants
At Kimbrough Dental we utilize state of the art 3-D digital computer software to plan every implant placed. Computer guided implant technology allows us to create a 3-D digital model of your teeth and jaws from a CT scan, and to plan the precise placement of the implants prior to the procedure. This makes our implants safer, faster, more accurate, and less invasive.
Dental implants are changing the way people live! With them, people are rediscovering the comfort and confidence to eat, speak, laugh, and enjoy life.
For more information about whether implants are right for you, visit our Dental Implant page, or call us at 479-751-9899 to schedule a consultation.