Alternatives to Dental Implants in Madison, WI
While dental implants may be the most desirable solution for most people facing tooth loss, they're not for everyone. Financial or health concerns may make dental implants impossible. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives that can preserve the look and the function of your natural teeth.
Dentures are a removable replacement for natural teeth. They are custom made and can replace the entire set of teeth in either your upper or lower jaw (full dentures) or can replace a single tooth or a few teeth (partial dentures). Full dentures sit directly on the gums, while partial dentures attach to surrounding teeth with hidden clasps. A poorly made set of dentures can cause discomfort and difficulty eating or speaking, but a well-made set minimizes these problems and is a vast improvement over open gaps. If there are few or no remaining teeth in the mouth, or if the remaining teeth are not strong and healthy, full dentures may be the best alternative.
Dentures do have many advantages. They are more affordable than implants and are typically covered by insurance plans; dentures look natural and partial dentures can be made to match your existing teeth and gums; dentures do not require surgery; and dentures are removable and are easy to modify to fit changes in the mouth.
If the missing tooth or group of teeth is surrounded on both sides by other healthy, strong teeth, a fixed bridge may be a viable option. When a fixed bridge is inserted, the teeth immediately to either side of the missing teeth are covered with artificial crowns, which attach to the full artificial teeth that will fill the gap. Once the bridge is inserted, it is bonded permanently into the mouth. In this sense, a bridge is just what its name suggests: it attaches on each end to an existing natural tooth, bridging the empty space between with artificial teeth that look just like the real thing.
A fixed bridge can last ten to twelve years before it needs to be replaced. Bridges have a few advantages over dental implants in that they are less expensive and they do not require surgery. Bridges also last longer than dentures, and while dentures require meticulous cleaning daily, bridges can be brushed and flossed like regular teeth.
Living with Missing Teeth
Some with missing teeth might consider just leaving gaps in their smiles, but it is important to replace missing teeth as quickly as possible. Not only are aesthetics and functionality a concern for many people with missing teeth, tooth loss presents a host of other risks. Healthy teeth can drift to fill the spaces left by missing teeth, creating not only cosmetic problems, but also problems with the bite and an increased predisposition toward tooth decay or gum disease. Missing teeth also interfere with speech, eating, and a confident smile.
If health or cost prevents you from getting dental implants, don't despair—there are other options that can prevent the complications of tooth loss and save your smile. If you live in Madison, WI, and want to find out which alternative to dental implants is right for you, call Oak Park Dental today.