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IMPLANT VS. TRADITIONAL RESTORATIVE OPTIONS

Posted by DENTAL SPECIALISTS OF NORTH FLORIDA on Jun 26 2020, 06:05 AM

The screw-shaped (root form) dental implant we see today was first introduced in 1965. However, the technology didn’t become popular until the 1990s and 2000s. Before that time, the restorative options available included the crown and bridge that replaced a single tooth or a few missing teeth, and the removable partial or full denture, which usually replaced a few to a full set of upper or lower teeth. Bridges and dentures are still commonly used today as cost-effective restorative options, as they do not require surgery, and their initial costs are significantly lower than dental implants. However, the technology behind bridges and dentures is simply not as advanced as the dental implant. They often impair function and taste, and they generally have shorter lifespans than dental implants.


Partial dentures usually have a metal framework with metal clasps that go around the remaining teeth to hold them in place. They need to be removed after every meal to keep them clean. Implants stay in place, just like natural teeth.

IMPLANTS VS. BRIDGES

If you look at the data on complications and failure rates, implants and bridges are almost the same. It’s not necessarily better to have an implant than it is to have a bridge, from a longevity standpoint. What is better, though, is that dental implants replace the roots of missing teeth, so it’s as if you’ve gained a tooth back. This makes it easy to floss and keep clean, just like your natural teeth. A bridge is tough to keep clean because the teeth are fused together and require special floss threaders to get underneath it. Additionally, by choosing a dental implant instead of a bridge, you will reduce the risk of tooth and root fracture by decreasing the biting force on the remaining teeth. By replacing the missing tooth or teeth with implants, the chewing forces will be evenly distributed between your teeth and implants, bringing equilibrium back to your bite. When you opt for a bridge, the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth are “prepared,” which means they are whittled down into smaller nubs or spikes to receive new crowns (see photo above). The bridge, which holds the new tooth, is set over the top of these prepared teeth. Now two teeth have to support what three teeth used to do. That is a lot of force exerted onto your remaining teeth, especially if the bridge is sitting at the back of your mouth where your molars are. To put it another way, if you take a pair of scissors, for example, and try to cut a piece of paper, you’ll find that the scissors cut best near their hinge, where there is the most force. If you use the tips of the scissors to try to cut the paper, you’ll find that they don’t cut as well. The same thing happens in your mouth, where chewing with your back teeth is like cutting at the hinge of scissors. That much force can break the roots under your bridge and may result in the loss of even more teeth!


A bridge requires grinding down natural teeth for it to fit. Implants do not require the destruction of natural teeth; they only replace the teeth that are already missing.

By replacing the missing tooth or teeth with implants, the chewing forces will be evenly distributed between your teeth and implants, bringing equilibrium back to your bite. When you opt for a bridge, the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth are “prepared,” which means they are whittled down into smaller nubs or spikes to receive new crowns (see photo above). The bridge, which holds the new tooth, is set over the top of these prepared teeth. Now two teeth have to support what three teeth used to do. That is a lot of force exerted onto your remaining teeth, especially if the bridge is sitting at the back of your mouth where your molars are. To put it another way, if you take a pair of scissors, for example, and try to cut a piece of paper, you’ll find that the scissors cut best near their hinge, where there is the most force. If you use the tips of the scissors to try to cut the paper, you’ll find that they don’t cut as well. The same thing happens in your mouth, where chewing with your back teeth is like cutting at the hinge of scissors. That much force can break the roots under your bridge and may result in the loss of even more teeth!

IMPLANTS VS. DENTURES

As for dentures, they are one of the oldest techniques we have available for replacing teeth. George Washington had dentures! But in the modern age, we have better technology and more options for replacing missing teeth.

Implants can often be used to improve upon the function of the traditional denture. In these instances, implants can be used to achieve more stability for dentures. These modern types of dentures are still removable, but they can be locked into place with implants. The great thing about the removable implant denture is that we can streamline the shape and size to be more comfortable in the patient’s mouth.


Traditional dentures completely cover the roof of the mouth in order to form a suction to keep the denture in place. Implant-supported teeth allow the roof of the mouth to stay open, which allows your taste buds and your speaking to be unaffected.

A traditional denture is cumbersome because it relies on suction. The more surface area the denture has to contact tissue, the better the suction. To illustrate this point, imagine that some water has been spilled on the table and you accidentally set your phone down on it. You’ll find that it’s harder to pick the phone up off a wet surface than a dry one. A denture works similarly. It uses your saliva to stick to the roof of your mouth like a suction cup. The problem, though, is that the denture’s extra surface area makes it cumbersome for you to talk or eat. And the denture covers up tissue that has some of your taste buds in it, which may reduce your ability to enjoy your favorite foods. Dentures also reduce your mouth’s chewing capacity to just 30 percent of what you had with all of your teeth. Now, if you have lost your teeth and replace them with dental implants, you may be able to get back to 85 percent of your natural chewing capacity. That’s a huge difference.

BOTTOM LINE

  • Implants are the most natural way to replace a missing tooth.
  • Implants don’t get cavities.
  • Implants have to potential for the greatest long-term value because they have the highest success treatment success rates.
  • Implants don’t compromise the health of the adjacent teeth like bridges (remember you have to cut down the adjacent teeth for the bridge) or removable prosthetics (these loosen up the adjacent teeth when you take them in and out).
  • Implants replace what you’re missing instead of overworking the remaining teeth as you would if you had a bridge.
  • Implants don’t move when you talk, laugh, or eat like removable restorative options.
  • Implants are generally easier to clean. They don’t require special floss threaders to clean up under them like bridges (Cavities under the bridges are the most common reason they fail… implants don’t get cavities..)

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