Dental implants are a great technology. They give us the ability to replace your lost tooth or teeth with artificial versions that look, function, and last just like the real thing. It’s like having a second chance at saving your smile.
But one concern about dental implants that comes up often is that people might think they’re too good. They may forget that there are other options that can sometimes work just as well (or better). And sometimes they may even be cheaper, too.
Gum Disease Treatment
Gum disease is the most common cause of adult tooth loss in the US. About half of all adults have some degree of gum disease, and many people develop gum disease so severe that it weakens the bone and ligaments that attach the tooth. If you experience this kind of receding gums and bone loss, you might think that your loose tooth is lost. Even if it’s technically classified as “hopeless,” it can still be saved with gum disease treatment.
Gum disease treatment can be used to remove infection around the teeth and encourage the regrowth of bone and gum tissue.
Pros: This can be significantly less expensive than a dental implant, and you will preserve your natural tooth, which is better for your mouth and jaw–and keeps your options open for dental implants in the future. Plus, you’ll have to treat gum disease anyway to get a dental implant.
Cons: The success rate may be lower for saving a threatened tooth than it is for dental implants. Discomfort associated with gum disease treatment may be more than for dental implants. If the tooth or teeth we’re considering saving are unattractive, you may not be happy with the results.
Root Canal Therapy
If you have developed a cavity that penetrates into the center of the tooth, the pulp chamber, you are likely in significant pain. You might be tempted to just get rid of that tooth to try to eliminate discomfort as quickly as possible. Replacement with a dental implant may be a secondary consideration.
But you should consider root canal therapy, which can save that infected tooth and eliminate discomfort.
Pros: A root canal will quickly reduce discomfort from an infected tooth. It only takes a few days for your discomfort to be appreciably reduced. Root canal therapy is about as successful as dental implants, and it means you get to keep your natural tooth. Plus a dental crown on the treated tooth ensures you’ll get an attractive result. And if you want to get a dental implant later, you should be able to.
Cons: Not everyone is a good candidate for a root canal. If you’re not, you will have to remove the tooth to eliminate the infection.
If you’ve determined that your natural tooth just can’t be saved, there are other treatment options besides a dental implant. One of these is a dental bridge. A dental bridge supports your replacement tooth with two dental crowns bonded to your natural teeth.
Pros: A dental bridge is about the same price or less than a dental implant. It’s fully fixed in your mouth, so it works just as well as your natural teeth. And if your neighboring teeth have been damaged, a dental bridge is a great way to treat three teeth with one restoration.
Cons: Dental bridges don’t stimulate your jawbone like natural teeth, and they don’t support your gums, so there’s a risk that tissue under the bridge will collapse. If your natural teeth don’t need crowns, we’ll be removing healthy natural tooth tissue to support a false tooth. Supporting the bridge might endanger those teeth, though the risk is small if the bridge is well-designed. And dental bridges don’t last as long as dental implants.
What’s Your Best Option?
If you are looking to replace one or more missing teeth, it’s important for you to understand the pros and cons of all your replacement options.
The best way to understand which option is best for you is to talk to an implant dentist. To schedule a consultation about dental implants in the San Jose area, please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment with Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at Top Down Dental.