Losing a tooth is not a new phenomenon. Since the start of time, people have lost their natural teeth and have been left with gaps in their smile. For as long as people have been losing teeth, they have been coming up with ways to replace them with clever substitutes. While they may bear little to no resemblance to the dentures we know today, the earliest examples of some form of dentures dates back 3500 years to the Egyptians, and consisted of carved animal bone or ivory and tied together with metal wire. In the 1400s, there was a craze for grave robbers to steal teeth and sell them to people who needed replacement teeth.
Fortunately, methods for replacing missing teeth have moved on since the 1700s! Nowadays, the options for replacing missing teeth are more reliable (and more hygienic!) This article looks at the different possibilities for smile restoration to help you make an informed decision.
How Do Crowns Differ From Dental Implants?
Crowns and dental implants form two different part of a tooth replacement unit. A dental crown is also known as a cap and is usually made from porcelain or a tooth-coloured composite material. A crown is used to replace a single missing tooth and can be designed to look like a natural tooth in terms of shape and size and matching the surrounding teeth. The crown is the ‘visible’ part of the restored tooth and sits above the gumline, while an implant is the metallic tooth root replacement that is surgically placed into the jaw. Through a process of osseointegration, the implant fuses to the jawbone, forming a solid foundation.
A crown can be anchored in the mouth in various ways. Firstly, it can be connected to a dental implant with
a connector piece known as an abutment. One can also have a crown without an implant, where the remaining tooth is still in place and restored with a filling, for example after root canal retreatment.
How do Dentures differ from Dental Implants?
When you think of a solution for missing teeth, you may assume that having dentures is the only option available. While modern dentures are a far cry from their 1700’s ivory relations, dentures do differ greatly from dental implants.
Dentures are best suited to people who have a sizable amount of missing teeth, or are missing all their teeth in their top or bottom jaws. Dentures are designed to fit snugly over your gums. Depending on the amount of teeth that are missing, you can have a full or partial denture for your top and bottom jaws. Unlike dental implants, dentures are removable. Most people store dentures in water overnight, giving their gums a rest while they sleep. Dentures are usually made to match your remaining natural teeth. However, as they are removable, it may take some getting used to eating and speaking with dentures.
Dentures can also be fixed onto dental implants, in a treatment known as implant retained dentures or implant overdentures. When fitted to implants, dentures are not removable and many people find it easier to eat and talk with them. The benefit of this treatment is that a denture can be anchored on a minimal amount of implants in the jaw and still enjoy excellent structural stability and a quicker recovery period after placement.
How Does a Bridge differ from Dental Implants?
When a few teeth are missing in a row next to each other, a bridge can be used to span an area of missing teeth. The prosthesis or bridge is attached or anchored to natural teeth and fixed over the top of the existing teeth to hold it in place. This means that the row of false teeth are all above the gum and nothing is anchored into the jaw.
This is unlike a dental implant, where the prosthesis is attached to the implant’s titanium post that has fused with the jaw bone. This makes it a stronger base for the tooth and a more permanent option, while preventing jaw bone loss over time.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants are carefully placed, using precision technology, to replace missing teeth. A metal, screw-shaped post fuses with the jaw bone in a process called osseointegration, making dental implants a long lasting solution. The prosthesis or false tooth used will be designed for your individual mouth, to fit your bite and also to give the implant a natural look.
Dental implants are often a more expensive option. This is because of the surgical procedure and skill needed and also the fact that they are an investment. Dental implants, if cared for properly, can last decades. Unlike dentures, they are not removable, and do not affect the way you eat or speak.
Are You Eligible for Dental Implants?
Being eligible for tooth replacement treatments such as dental implants relies on a number of factors. That is why it is essential to have a comprehensive assessment at a qualified dentist before any treatment can begin. During this assessment your teeth and oral health will be evaluated, and your dental needs to choose the right restorative option for you, that will allow you to eat and smile again with ease and confidence.