Dental implants change the way dentists address tooth loss
May 1, 2016
When considering options for replacing missing teeth, patients ask us about the benefits of dental implants versus dentures.
In this article, First Choice Dental dentist and dental implant expert Dr. David Penwell shares his perspective on how dental implants compare with bridges or dentures for tooth replacement, as well as how dental implants can be used in combination with partial or full dentures.
Dental implants feel, look and function just like natural teeth.
Dr. Penwell explains, “Today’s dental implants are a fantastic alternative to dentures and bridges, and when used in combination with dentures, implants improve comfort and function for the patient. Dental implants look, feel and function just like your natural teeth. You can bite and chew like normal, brush and floss like normal and visit your dentist just as you would with natural teeth. Our patients say they forget they have implants, and that’s just about the best statement I know of to demonstrate how natural dental implants feel and function.”
Dental implants give you back your normal life and restore your confidence when eating, speaking, laughing and enjoying life. Learn more about what dental implants are and how they work.
Dental Implants for Replacing One or Two Teeth
When replacing one or two teeth, dental implants offer a key advantage versus a dental bridge. Dr. Penwell explains, “A dental bridge requires prepping the surface of the teeth on either side of the space. In contrast, an implant makes it possible to approach treatment as a single-tooth replacement without touching the teeth on either side. The result is a less invasive, better functioning solution that feels, looks and works like your natural teeth.”
Implant dentists like Penwell can use a dental implant with a crown over the top for a single-tooth replacement. Or when several teeth are missing, dental implants can be used in combination with a partial denture to secure it in place.
Penwell explains, “Dental implants can be formed with a hook or anchor fitted to attach to a partial denture. The patient’s partial denture snaps or hitches to this anchor on the implant, so the partial won’t shift around like it would without the implant. The result is a more secure, natural feeling solution that prevents the irritation, awkwardness and slipping that patients associate with dentures alone.”
The downside of dentures and how dental implants can help.
Until the advance of dental implants, patients had to accept the fact that if they lost teeth, their only option was a partial or full denture, depending on how many teeth needed to be replaced. Dentures can be awkward and unreliable. They can slip around, causing embarrassment and irritation of the gum tissue.
Dr. Penwell says, “No matter how good the denture, you’re never going to forget that you have false teeth. Dentures are far from the perfect solution, and having dentures can be challenging.”
Dental implants open up a whole new set of options for patients wanting a solution that restores their confidence, giving them back the feel, look and function of their natural teeth.
Patients find the slipping and moving aspect of dentures embarrassing and uncomfortable. This movement and slipping may cause gum irritation or sores over time. Partial dentures, if not fitted properly, may promote infection and decay in other teeth, which may increase the risk that you would need a tooth filling on the adjoining tooth.
Patients with dentures also get tired of the maintenance and cleaning that dentures require. Finally, it’s not uncommon for dentures to need to be replaced if they wear out.
Unlike dentures, dental implants feel, look and function like natural teeth. They don’t slip or require maintenance like dentures. You brush, floss, eat, speak and go to your dental hygiene appointments just as you would for natural teeth.
‘They’re so natural, patients tell us they forget they’re not their natural teeth,” says Dr. Penwell.
Combining dental implants and dentures in one solution.
Dr. Penwell says that sometimes the preferred solution for patients involves a combination of dental implants and dentures. “In the case where a good number of teeth need to be replaced, we can use a dental implant for one or two teeth to stabilize the denture and help it fit comfortably and stay in place without slipping or discomfort.”
Using dental implants to stabilize dentures can prevent bone loss because they prevent slipping and irritation. Also, adding dental implants to stabilize and strengthen dentures means you can bite and chew more like your natural teeth than with dentures alone.
How do you decide between dental implants, bridges, dentures or a combination?
“Each patient is unique,” says Dr. Penwell. “Dental implants can be used as an alternative to bridges or dentures, or used in combination with these solutions to make them work better. The best option will depend upon the patient’s unique oral health situation, preferences and goals for what they want to achieve.” Dr. Penwell recommends that you talk with your dentist to help you evaluate both short- and long-term considerations when considering dental implants, bridges, dentures or a combination of these options. Dr. Penwell says, “It depends on the age, oral health, preferences and overall treatment plan for each patient.”
Dr. Penwell offers free dental implant consultations to evaluate your unique oral health situation and discuss options with you based on your unique needs and preferences. “There is no such thing as the one-size-fits-all solution,” says Dr. Penwell. “As your dentist, we’re committed to offering you several alternatives, discussing the pros and cons of each alternative and related costs, and giving you the information you need to decide what’s right for you. If you’re happy and we’ve helped you achieve your goals for a smile that looks, feels and functions the way you need it to and preserves your long-term health and quality of life, then we’ve done our job.”