Our teeth are an important tool that impact us our entire lives, starting from about 1 year of age. Our teeth impact our health and allow us to eat a variety of foods, make specific sounds, form words & interact with others, but what happens when those very teeth we depend on start becoming diseased or damaged?
If you are one of the millions of Americans who have been to the dentist in the last year with a damaged tooth, you’d know the vast amount of information and options out there for fixing these dental issues. Below, we’ll discuss the options from temporary to permanent solutions.
SEMI-PERMANENT OPTIONS – BRIDGES, CROWNS & VENEERS
Crowns, bridges & veneers are all dental restoration options that can vary in their quality and durability, but offer a semi-permanent fix to most dental issues.
- Crowns – Crowns, or dental “caps,” completely encircles the remaining portion of a tooth when a cavity becomes too large to fill or when a piece of tooth breaks off and can’t be fixed with a filling or veneer. Your dentist may recommend a crown for a large cavity, chip or break in the natural crown that threatens the health of that tooth.
- Bridges – Bridges are a type of prosthesis that attach to other teeth or dental implants that ‘bridge’ a space between one or more missing teeth. If the surrounding teeth are still healthy, your dentist may opt to reduce the size of those teeth so that a bridge may be placed to ‘bridge’ the space between natural teeth. Bridges work for a single missing tooth or small gaps, but they can only be used if the surrounding teeth and jaw bone are in good condition and stable enough to support the bridge. Great care must be taken to clean and maintain the bridge and surrounding teeth. Bridges, especially older versions, may be a different color than the teeth and are easier to spot.
- Veneers – Veneers are a more cosmetic option to improve the appearance of teeth and protect the surface from damage. Veneers involve removing part of the enamel of the tooth and can be used to change the color and/or shape of a natural tooth or to fix minor chipping and normal wear that occurs over time.
There are also options for complete tooth removal and replacement with dentures that give patients a temporary functionality of teeth, but with the need to be removed and cleaned daily. Anyone with dentures can tell you this process is constant maintenance, and the can result in dentures fitting poorly and patients not able to chew certain foods. Often, dentures can present more problems than they solve.
All of these options still may not permanently solve the problem of missing or damaged teeth. If a patients jawbone and gums are also damaged, none of these options may be possible, as the damage may be too advanced. This is where an oral surgeon can help create a permanent solution to dental bone, gum and tooth loss with dental implants.
DENTAL IMPLANTS – A MORE PERMANENT SOLUTION
Dental implants consist of a titanium post placed into the bone and a crown (cap) that fits on top of the implant. Jaw bone reconstruction may be a necessary part of this process to bring the supporting bone back to a level that will support the implants. Once the surgery is complete and the dental implants have had time to integrate into the surrounding bone, your restoring dentist fabricates a crown to be fixed to the dental implant. Implants are more permanent solutions for missing teeth and they feel and act just like natural teeth. For most people, this is the best solution for permanent replacement of missing teeth.
Advances in dental technology have led to oral surgeons creating new procedures for full upper or lower jaw reconstruction, also known as ‘Teeth In A Day’ or similar. Oral surgeons can now replace an entire row of teeth using 4 posts and dental implants, which look and feel similar to real teeth.
If you or someone you love are dealing with the inconveniences that missing or damaged teeth can create, it’s best to consult with an oral surgeon to find options and treatment plans customized for you. The oral surgeons at Carolinas Center For Oral & Facial Surgery can help create a natural looking, permanent replacement for missing or damaged teeth. Call today to schedule your appointment at one of our locations in the Carolinas.