Missing or broken teeth are inconvenient, unappealing, and dangerous. Lost teeth don’t just affect your appearance, they can pose serious dangers to your oral health. The spaces left behind can be a breeding ground for plaque and bacteria. Without a replacement to keep things in place, you could suffer bone loss, crooked teeth, and receding gums.
The most common replacements for missing teeth are dental crowns and dental implants. While these choices both serve the function of replacing teeth, they differ in many ways. If you have missing teeth, it is important to discuss your options with a dentist. Gathering information about your options will help you make the right decision.
Dental crowns are ceramic or porcelain replacements that cap over a damaged or misshapen tooth. They can be used to repair a tooth that is too decayed to support a filling or to correct the size, shape, or colour of a tooth. Crowns are also used to protect weak teeth in danger of fracture.
When dental crowns are used to replace missing teeth, they support a bridge (replacement for missing teeth). Your healthy teeth on either side of the gap will have dental crowns applied to anchor the bridge which is fixed to both crowns. To apply the crowns, your dentist will grind healthy teeth down, and cap the crown over them. The entire bridge will be permanently bonded to the supporting teeth.
Pros and Cons
Dental crowns are a proven effective method for permanently replacing missing teeth. They can be used in most patients. However, when finding the best long-term solution for your oral health, it is a good idea to weigh your options.
- Cost – Up-front costs for crowns and bridges is considerably cheaper than implants.
- Completed quickly – The procedure usually is completed in two to three visits.
- Can be used in almost all situations to replace missing teeth – Bridges have proven effective in most replacement situations.
- No surgery required – Avoiding the pain, cost, and potential risks associated with surgery may be a requirement for some patients.
- Potential to fall out – The life span of dental crowns and bridge is typically 7-10 years.
- Add burdens to surrounding teeth – Teeth that have been modified to support crowns may be more susceptible to decay.
- Do not address jaw bone loss – Since the root is not replaced, additional bone loss may occur.
- Possible potential to break or crack – Hard foods like certain candy, raw vegetables and nuts can crack or chip crowns.
- Increased difficulty with cleaning – Additional flossing is required to clean the space between the bridge and gum-line.
Related article: How Much Does a Dental Crown cost in Canada?
Dental implants are artificial replacements for the roots of missing teeth. Made of titanium, implants are surgically fixed to the jawbone. Since titanium is biocompatible, it is not likely to be rejected by the body and will eventually fuse to the jaw bone.
Dental implants are applied in two to three steps. First, a metal implant is implanted into the jaw bone. You might be required to wait until the bone and surrounding gums have healed completely before the artificial covering is added. Crowns bridges will then be fitted over the new implant to look like your natural teeth.
Pros and Cons
Dental implants are considered to be the replacement most like your natural teeth. However, they are not the best choice for everyone. It’s important to learn all of the facts before considering dental implants.
- Strength – Since the root is replaced, it is more likely to have the strength of a traditional tooth.
- Durability – Implants fuse to the jawbone and are expected to last a lifetime.
- Additional support for the jaw bone – Replacing the root helps avoid further bone deterioration.
- They don’t affect the surrounding teeth – Since the implant replaces the root of the tooth, the surrounding teeth are not used as support.
- Expected to last a lifetime – Dental implants do not have to be replaced.
- Cost – The initial cost for dental implants is significantly higher than crowns.
- Healing time – Swelling and bruising will occur with moderate pain for the first few days after surgery. The full replacement may not occur until after the implant is fully healed (3-6 months).
- Surgical complications – Every surgery comes with the risk of complications. There is a chance of nerve damage, sinus damage, and infection.
- The possibility of additional surgery – If your jawbone doesn’t have the strength to support the implant, additional bone grafts are required. There is also a chance that your sinus placement may affect the surgery.
- Might be less likely to be covered by dental insurance – The initial costs for implants are considerably higher than other replacement options, making your insurance company less likely to pay for the full costs.
- Not suitable for all patients – Patients who suffer from serious health complications may have more difficulty healing after surgery. Tobacco use may also be a factor.
Related article: How Much Does a Dental Implant Cost in Canada?
Choosing the Tooth Replacement that is Right for You
If your dentist decides you are healthy enough to support either type of tooth replacement, you will likely make the choice based on your personal preferences and the cost of treatment. It is important to discuss your needs and lifestyle with your dentist. Having your teeth replaced is a necessity.
Talk to your local dentist in Toronto to learn the best options to keep your smile healthy and beautiful.