Hi there, I was playing softball with my team last night, and one of my teeth got knocked out. I heard you were supposed to look for it and take it to the dentist right away, but we couldn’t find it. We even went back this morning and looked when it was light out, but no tooth. I was wondering does that mean I have to wear a fake tooth for the rest of my life? Someone said I could get a dental implant and that it would be just like getting my old tooth back, but is that really true? I really thought the only way to not have to hassle about it was if I found my old tooth.
Thanks for your time here.
Sorry to hear that you lost your tooth, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be “hassling” with a fake tooth for life! Dental implants are, in fact, very like having a natural tooth. And an implant is not your only option. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of dental implants and bridges.
Dental implants are titanium or ceramic root forms that are surgically placed into your jawbone. As they heal, the body deposits more bone-building minerals around the forms, actually making them a part of the jawbone. Once this process is complete, a lifelike crown will be attached to the root form. You can see the parts of a dental implant in the diagram to the left.
In a couple of important ways, an implant mimics a natural tooth. First, the dental implant will look, feel, and function just like your other teeth. And second, because it replaces more than just the crown, a dental implant prevents the bone loss that always accompanies the loss of a tooth.
This bone loss happens because the body senses that the tooth is no longer there, and it begins to absorb the bone-building minerals that supported that tooth for use elsewhere in the body. That is why dental implants are becoming a standard treatment for lost teeth. However, dental implants involve more cost and healing time than dental bridges. Click here to read Pumphrey Periodontics’ page on the Benefits of Dental Implants.
In addition, dental implantology is not something most dentists studied in dental school, so it is very important to seek out a dentist or periodontist who has the requisite training and experience to place an implant for you. This is not the type of treatment you want to cut corners on, and the consequences seeking out cheap implants can be severe.
If you choose to have a dental bridge, the two teeth on either side of the gap will be prepared to receive crowns. This involves removing some of the surface of the tooth while leaving a solid structure to support the crown. Then a set of three crowns will be prepared, and the two outer ones will be fused to the one replacing the lost tooth. The drawing to the left illustrates what the bridge looks like and how the two outer teeth are prepared.
As you can see, the downside of choosing a bridge is that it requires the two nearest teeth to be altered in order to support the middle one, and if those two teeth are healthy, you may not want to do that. But a bridge will usually cost less than a dental implant. In addition, the skills for this type of treatment are taught as part of the curriculum in dental schools, so just about any dentist should be able to provide the service.
And finally, both treatments will provide a long-lasting, lifelike solution that nobody will be able to detect. Your dentist can help you decide which treatment option is best in your particular situation. But either way, you won’t be in for life-long hassles.
Here’s to a solution that will really work for you.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Pumphrey of Pumphrey Periodontics in Atlanta.