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Dental Implants vs. General Dentistry
March 19th, 2014


Dental Implants vs. General Dentistry

Dental implants allow for the replacement of missing teeth without grinding on good teeth to make bridges. Many conventional dental procedures are still indicated today. However, with the advent of dental implants, many of those procedures are becoming outdated or contraindicated. For decades, the dental profession has advocated the preservation of natural teeth and natural tooth structure. This concept is certainly upheld when using dental implants for tooth replacement. The need for removal of healthy tooth structure (enamel) has been eliminated by dental implant treatment.

Dentists agree that a tooth often begins a downward spiral after being touched by a dental drill for the first time. Patients and practitioners alike have agonized over the decision to grind on healthy teeth. We, as practitioners, see conventional crown and bridgework fail prematurely. Several studies on crowns and bridges found an average 9-10 year life expectancy in the United States. Until about 1985 our choices for tooth replacement were poor, at best. Since implants have become the “standard of care” for tooth replacement our choices have improved dramatically.

The use of dental implants gives three more benefits rarely discussed:

  1. Dental implants strengthen the dentition (entire set of teeth). By adding a dental implant where a tooth is missing, we are replacing the root and the crown (top) which is missing, thereby potentially increasing the life expectancy of surrounding teeth. In some ways the implant is more solid than the tooth it is replacing. Bridges and partials weaken the dentition by forcing other teeth to carry the burden of the missing ones.
  2. Dental implants preserve the bone levels that are present when a tooth is lost. Without the implant the bone will slowly reabsorb (melt away) because there is no stimulus to keep it in place.
  3. Dental implants do not decay. By far, the most common reason for a crown or a bridge to fail is because decay starts at the margin where the crown meets the natural tooth. Titanium implants cannot decay.

Below we contrast implant dentistry with more traditional forms of dentistry:

 

 

When a person is missing one tooth there are two options for replacement, a single tooth dental implant or a three-unit bridge.

One Missing Tooth

Implant
Bridge
Cost
Same as bridge
Same as implant
Treatment time
3 months
2-5 weeks
Drill on other teeth
No
Yes
Life expectancy
10-30 years
5-15 years
Effect on dentition
Strengthens
Weakens
Chance for future decay
No
Yes

Several Missing Teeth

Removable partial dentures (RPD) have been used by dental patients to replace missing teeth for over a century. Simply by considering the phrase one can understand why they are really outdated treatment options; removable, by the patient several times per day. Partial denture indicates it is a denture on a smaller scale. Most people would choose to have “fixed” (cemented or screw retained) teeth if given the option. Fixed teeth on dental implants look, feel and function like natural teeth.
Implant bridge
R P D
Cost
More than RPD
Less than implant bridge
Treatment time
3 months
4-12 weeks
Drill on other teeth
No
Yes
Life expectancy
10-30 years
5-15 years
Effect on dentition
Strengthens
Weakens
Chance for future decay
No
Yes
Prosthesis stability
Like natural teeth
Moderate
Ease of cleaning
Moderate
Simple (outside mouth)
Comfort
Like natural teeth
Poor
Speech change
None
Improves with time
Palate covered
No
Yes
Preserves bone
Yes
No

Missing All Teeth

Complete dentures have been a nemesis of mankind since they were invented. Though they do replace missing teeth and can be esthetically pleasing, there are few other accolades about dentures. Most dentures wearers admit that they would “do anything” to save their teeth if given the opportunity. Dentures are difficult to adapt to, uncomfortable to wear, painful to chew with and can cause public humiliation. Most denture wearers claim that dentures alter their lifestyle significantly.
Dental Implants
Dentures
Cost
Much more than dentures
Much less than implants
Appearance
Good
Good
Treatment time
3-12 months
2-6 weeks
Life expectancy
10-30 years
3-10 years
Effect on chewing
Like healthy natural teeth
Poor
Prosthesis stability
Like natural teeth
Very poor
Ease of cleaning
Moderate
Simple (outside mouth)
Comfort
Like natural teeth
Very poor
Speech change
Minimal
Improves with time
Palate covered
No
Yes
Preserves bone
Yes
No-accelerates bone loss
Posted in Dr V J Vadgama |