The teeth are some of the most important parts of a person’s anatomy. They are essential to the entire digestive process because before the rest of the GI tract can extract the nutrients out of food, the teeth must break the food down into tiny pieces that allow the saliva to turn it into a bolus, which in turn is easier to process. Not only that, the teeth are essential in correcting the form of someone’s face. Beyond just function, the teeth are also the most aesthetic part of the face as they are the ones that take center stage when a person smiles.
Because of teeth degradation, the teeth may no longer look and work the same, however. Oftentimes, a dentist would have to remove them completely because the degradation has caused the nerve endings underneath them to become more sensitive making it more painful to chew or drink water.
Traditionally this problem would be solved by getting dentures, a fast and time-tested way to restore some of the form and function of the teeth. Dentures are fairly limited, however. Not only do they not exactly look like natural teeth, but you would have to make adjustments to your eating habits because they are also not as durable as natural teeth. So what alternative options are there for someone who would rather seek an alternative to dentures? Let’s talk about two of the most common alternatives.
Dental bridges are very effective when it comes to restoring missing teeth. A dental bridge works by preparing teeth that are in between the missing tooth and using them as pillars to hold a new tooth in between them after impressions are made. There are 4 general types of dental bridges:
- Traditional Bridges: Traditional bridges use two teeth as pillars to hold a replacement tooth in place within the gap. The two adjacent teeth are prepared by removing some of their enamel so that they are reconstructed with the replacement tooth held between them.
- Cantilever Bridges: Cantilever bridges work exactly like traditional bridges but instead of two teeth used as pillars to hold up the replacement tooth, only one is used. This of course is more conservative because it conserves the natural enamel of one of the adjacent teeth.
- Maryland Bonded Bridges: Maryland Bonded bridges are often used for the front teeth but instead of using two adjacent teeth as pillars, porcelain or metal bands are used.
- Implant-Supported Bridges: Must like Maryland Bonded bridges, Implant-Supported bridges do not use any adjacent teeth as pillars but instead use an implant to support the replacement tooth.
- Subperiosteal Implants: Subperiosteal implants work by embedding a metal frame holding the replacement tooth directly under the gums and on top of the bone.
- Endosteal Implants: The advantage of Endosteal implants is that a wider variety of patients are candidates for them as long as the patient does not have any jaw complications. They typically work by embedding a screw-like implant into the area of the jaw where the replacement tooth is to be attached.
- Zygomatic Implants: Zygomatic implants, requiring the riskiest procedure, are quite similar to Endosteal implants but the attachments are made to the cheekbone instead of the jaw.
Whatever procedure patients may choose, they can take solace in the fact that these procedures are always improving. Dental bridges are starting to spare more tooth enamel while dental implants are becoming less invasive and quicker to have done. Now that you know what it takes to have the teeth replaced either by more temporary dentures or more long-lasting solutions like bridges and implants, you can be more appreciative of the very things in your mouth that allows you to have a beautiful and infectious smile.