Single Tooth Replacement
When a single tooth is missing, the two most common treatment options for a single tooth replacement are the traditional tooth-supported bridge and an implant-supported crown. When a traditional bridge is used to replace a missing tooth, the adjacent teeth are cut down to pegs in order to fit the cemented bridge in place.
This method of tooth replacement can be very esthetic and functional for a period of time. However, a tooth-supported bridge does not replace the bone that previously surrounded the root. Since there is no longer a root to hold the bone in place, the bone deteriorates, or melts away.
There are many advantages to single tooth replacement with an implant supported crown such as:
- It looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth
- It is much more esthetic long term
- It does not decay
- There is no need to grind down the adjacent natural teeth
- The bone is preserved, preventing a visible bony defect
- It is more hygienic (easier to clean) than a tooth-supported bridge
Multiple Tooth Replacement
When more than one tooth is missing, there are three common treatment options: the traditional tooth-supported bridge, a removable partial denture and an implant-supported bridge. In this situation the benefits of implant-supported teeth are even more obvious.
A removable prosthesis, such as a partial denture, actually accelerates the bone resorption process, resulting in more rapid bone deterioration. In addition, the clasps which hold the partial denture in place put extreme pressure on the natural teeth they hook onto, loosening them and in many cases, eventually leading to the loss of those teeth. Most patients with partial dentures state that they are uncomfortable and that they rarely wear them.