In the past, when a single tooth was lost, a typical treatment option would be a fixed bridge. Such treatment involves relying on the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth, often requiring aggressive reduction of healthy teeth that wouldn’t otherwise need to be restored for their own structural benefit. Over time, the bone that supported the lost tooth (or teeth) dissolves away, contributing to excessive space between the bridge and the tissue below it, contributing to more plaque/food retention and tissue irritation.
Dental implants allow us to treat single-tooth problems with single-tooth solutions. By avoiding the needless restorative treatment on adjacent teeth required with a fixed bridge, those teeth are preserved and their longevity more ensured. Single-tooth implants can be cleaned just like natural teeth, as there’s nothing impeding the passage of conventional floss. When a tooth is lost and immediately restored with an implant, the bone is “tricked” with the replacement root (implant) and bone loss is minimized. Due to the overwhelming benefits of implants over fixed bridge treatment, to treat a candidate for implants with a fixed bridge would be considered below the standard of care today.
When more teeth are missing than would be treated with a fixed bridge, a removable denture (partial or full) is an option. A partial denture utilizes metal clasps to anchor remaining teeth and acrylic rests in those areas where teeth are missing and serves as the attachment platform for fake teeth. These clasps often torque on teeth that are already periodontally compromised, leading to the acceleration of tooth loss. Patients with these appliances often complain that they effect speech, impede the sense of taste, and create a negative image of “old age.”
Full dentures receive similar complaints, but more pronounced. As multiple teeth are lost, the boney ridge that supported them dissolves away. These patients traditionally have relied on the inadequate retention of acrylic against tissue on a shrinking boney ridge. The upper denture at least benefits from the “suction” created against the palate. The lower full denture lack that anatomic advantage and is commonly considered the most annoying, ineffective treatment in dentistry. Complaints about it have been unanimous in my Los Altos dental practice…until now. By simply placing 2 implants and creating a denture that adheres to those implants, the days of uncomfortable, restricted chewing and embarrassing slipping of the appliance in social situations are over.
Dental Implants are an economical option
In my experience at my practice in Los Altos, reluctance to pursue dental implants has been due to the expense or concern of failure. Initial treatment for a single-tooth implant is typically more expensive than a fixed bridge or denture, but it’s a much more predictable option that preserves both remaining teeth and bone. Studies show that within 5-7 years, there’s a failure rate of 30% in teeth adjacent to a fixed bridge or removable partial denture. Sure, a 3-unit fixed bridge (to replace one missing tooth) may cost less money than an implant, but if it fails because the teeth supporting it succumb to disease, it’s going to need to be replaced. If I could add up the cost of replacing a fixed bridge or a partial denture, perhaps several times over a lifetime, dental implants are definitely the more economical option.
The success rate for dental implants varies from study to study, but generally is over 95%, much higher than any other tooth-replacing option. We’re fortunate to be living in a time when this technology creates comfortable, health-restoring opportunities to those who have lost teeth.
Are you missing a tooth or teeth and contemplating the option of dental implants? Perhaps you have been wearing a denture and are unhappy with it’s fit and comfort while chewing? We can help!
Contact Us Today!
Dr. Schweifler and our Los Altos Dentistry team are committed to providing exceptional care and empowering our patients with information about their dental health. If you have any questions about dental implants, or would like to schedule an appointment, we invite you to give us a call at 650-941-2166 for a complimentary consultation. The outstanding experience of our Los Altos Dentist, Dr. Schweifler, and the skills of our staff have helped us in successfully treating oral problems in our patients who visit us from different parts of Los Altos, Palo Alto, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Saratoga, Mountain View, and surrounding communities.