If you have lost one or more teeth, you have several reconstructive dentistry options for replacing them. But which is the right one for you? Doing a cost-benefit analysis can help you decide.
Of course, you can decide not to replace your lost teeth. Although this is the least expensive solution available, it’s also the most damaging. You will see a dramatic decrease in your ability to chew your food, and you’ll have to deal with the visible gap in your teeth. You’ll also see your teeth begin to drift. They’ll get crooked and spaced out, and sometimes this can contribute to damage and decay in your other teeth. It can make your teeth harder to clean, increasing your risk of gum disease.
A partial denture is an inexpensive choice for replacing lost teeth, but it does offer some benefits. Primarily, it helps maintain spacing between your teeth, so you won’t see your teeth start to drift. It also offers a cosmetic replacement for the lost tooth or teeth. Although not as good as some cosmetics, they are good enough for most situations.
What dentures don’t offer is good chewing ability. They also don’t stimulate your gums and jawbone, so you will see a resorption of your jawbone, which can affect your facial appearance. And they can sometimes cause the accumulation of food and bacteria against your natural teeth, resulting in tooth decay or even loss.
Dental bridges are better than partial dentures for many reasons. They’re fully fixed in the mouth, which means they can give you the same full chewing force that you had with your natural teeth. They preserve spacing and distribute forces to protect your teeth. They can look very attractive, often indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
There are some disadvantages to dental bridges, though. First, they are limited in the number of teeth they can replace, typically only one lost tooth between two sound natural teeth. And they require the modification of your natural teeth to function, so they’re not as good at preserving your natural teeth. Dental bridges don’t stimulate your gums or jawbone, which means you will experience some minor bone recession, though this is generally localized.
Cost: Moderate to High
The cost of dental implants depends on how many teeth you are replacing and how many implants you need. For a single replacement tooth, the cost of dental implants is comparable to dental bridges. However, as we consider replacing more teeth, the cost increases accordingly. But for the cost, dental implants offer many great benefits. Dental implants look and function just like natural teeth–no one will likely be able to tell the difference, and you can keep eating all your favorite foods. Dental implants preserve spacing, and don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support. They also stimulate your gums and jawbone, so you won’t see any jawbone resorption–maintain your facial appearance.
Dental implants do require careful maintenance, similar to what you should practice to maintain your natural teeth for life. Read more about the benefits of dental implants here.
Summary of Cost and Benefits
|Option||Maintain Spacing?||Maintain Chewing?||Attractive?||SupportBone?||Maintain Teeth?||Full Replace-ment?||Cost|
|Dental Implant||X||X||X||X||X||X||Moderate to High|