When it comes to missing teeth, dental implants are often considered the longest-lasting, most reliable treatment option. However, some patients may not qualify for traditional dental implants due to bone loss or other health reasons. Others may wish to pursue other options due to time, cost, or commitment. In this article, our team at Smiles for Life, serving Bridgewater, VA, and Staunton, VA, explores four of the most common dental implant alternatives.
#1: Fixed Dental Bridge
The most popular dental implant alternative is a fixed bridge. This type of restoration is intended to replace either a single missing tooth or up to three teeth in a row. It consists of two dental crowns with artificial teeth (pontics) connected between them.
To place a dental bridge, the natural teeth on either side of the gap must be altered. This requires some enamel removal. Once the teeth are prepared, the bridge is bonded permanently into place. The dental crowns are anchored by the natural teeth and the pontics fill in the space in your smile.
#2: Removable Denture
Partial dentures replace any number of missing teeth, while full dentures replace an entire arch. Dentures rest on the gums and are supported by the underlying bone ridge. Partial dentures can even be attached to adjacent teeth for additional stability using special dental clasps.
Dentures are less invasive than implants and bridges, as there is no need for surgery or enamel reduction. However, these appliances are not as stable or long-lasting as dental implants. They can often shift and slip and need to be adjusted and relined to retain a proper fit.
#3: Do Nothing
Of course, there is always the option to do nothing after tooth loss. That being said, this is never recommended and should only be considered as a last resort. Left untreated, tooth loss leads to a host of other dental problems over time, including bite issues, bone atrophy, and even further tooth loss. Doing nothing after tooth loss only perpetuates the cycle of poor oral health and function.
#4: Non-Traditional Implant Options
Those who are ineligible for standard implants due to bone loss have newer alternative options. In recent years, many implant systems have been developed to address tooth loss in patients with bone atrophy. Here are three of the most common alternatives:
- Implant-supported dentures: While conventional dentures rely on the gums and bone for support, implant-supported dentures are anchored to dental implants. These appliances offer much more stability than their traditional counterparts and can be supported by four to six implants per arch.
- Fixed hybrid bridge: Some patients prefer a permanent option. A fixed hybrid is similar to an implant-supported denture. The difference is this prosthesis can only be removed by your dentist.
- All-on-4®: Some individuals have been told they do not qualify for implants due to bone loss. All-on-4 addresses this issue by placing implants strategically, with the purpose of maximizing existing bone. Once placed, a fixed restoration is attached, typically during the same appointment.
If you have been told in the past that implants are not an option for you, we encourage you to talk with your dental team. Advances in technology have made it possible for more individuals to enjoy the benefits of dental implants.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Tooth loss is devastating and can significantly affect your quality of life. If you are exploring teeth replacement options, contact our Bridgewater practice today to schedule a consultation. You can also call us anytime at (540) 828-2312.