If you are missing some or all of your teeth, you may be searching for the right tooth replacement option for your circumstances. There are 36 million Americans missing all of their teeth, as the American College of Prosthodontists reports, and 120 million missing at least one of their teeth. Dentures are a common replacement option, but everyone has different needs, and this option isn't always the best solution. Luckily, there are several different denture alternatives available, such as overdentures and implants, that can help you regain your ability to talk, chew and smile with confidence.
Tooth-supported overdentures, as a case report in the Journal of Oral Research and Review describes, is a cost-effective tooth replacement option if you're missing some of your teeth. This option uses your remaining healthy teeth to support the denture, which helps to preserve the bone levels in your jaw. Since this appliance attaches to existing teeth, it can provide the sensation that you are talking and chewing with your natural teeth. However, to be a candidate for tooth-supported overdentures, you must have some firm teeth remaining that can support the overdenture.
Full Dental Implants
Implants are another option to replace all or some missing teeth. As the American Academy of Implant Dentistry describes, implants are single metal units secured surgically in the bone and topped with a tooth-colored crown. They function well for chewing, talking and smiling and are often indistinguishable from natural teeth, providing great aesthetic results. But because this option requires sufficient bone level for stability, it may not be a viable treatment for all patients, as the Mayo Clinic notes, Additionally, as with any surgery, placing implants comes with risks, such as bleeding, nerve damage and infection.
A study in The International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Implants explains that success rates for implants are high, but if you take bisphosphonate medications for osteoporosis or smoke, you may be at a higher risk of implant failure. You and your dentist will have to do a thorough medical history review to make sure you are a candidate for implant placement.
If your dentist determines you are a good candidate for implants, the next step is to decide which of the following implant systems will work for you.
Four Dental ImplantsFour implants can be spaced across the arch where the teeth once sat, explains a study in Materials Science and Engineering C. The denture is then designed to sit securely on these implants, which prevents shifting of the denture while chewing or talking. This method has a success rate of up to 99%.
Six Dental ImplantsAnother denture alternative is to use six implants in an arch to support replacement teeth. Having more implants allows for greater distribution of stress and other forces on the replacement teeth, according to the Materials Science and Engineering C study. Your bone levels, health and preferences will determine whether four or six implants is best.
Which Denture Alternative Should You Choose?
Missing teeth shouldn't compromise your quality of life. Your dentist can explain all of your options and help you find the best one for your circumstances. Whether or not you choose one of these denture alternatives, maintaining good oral care at home and seeing your dentist for regular appointments will help to ensure your new smile stays healthy.