If you’re one of the estimated 178 million Americans who has lost at least one tooth, you have some decisions to make. There are several replacement options available, and which one is best for you depends on multiple factors, including how many teeth need to be replaced. And although you might be tempted to leave an empty space because it’s “just one tooth,” you would be surprised at the consequences of doing that! Dental implants are a great choice for people who have lost anywhere from one to all their teeth, but they’re particularly ideal when just one tooth is missing. Keep reading to learn about why it’s so important to replace a missing tooth and find out how dental implants in Flagstaff can benefit you.
After Losing a Tooth, What Are Your Options?
Before explaining the advantages of implants, it’s helpful to review all of your options first:
- Do nothing
- Removable partial denture (sometimes called a “flipper”)
- Dental implant
What Are the Consequences of Leaving an Empty Space?
You may think the only consequence of leaving an empty space is the way it looks in your mouth, but there are multiple other serious side effects:
- Any remaining teeth behind a missing space will start to shift or tip forward to “fill” the space. In addition to changing your bite, it also increases the risk of cavities and gum disease around these remaining teeth.
- Over time, the bone mass in your jaw that once surrounded the tooth will be lost, causing the jawbone in the area to become thinner. If multiple teeth are missing, it will change your facial structure and add years to your appearance.
- It’s common to take your teeth for granted, but every tooth works together to help you eat and speak comfortably. If you’ve ever stubbed or broken your pinky toe, you quickly realize how important even the smallest body part is for normal functioning!
Other options like a bridge or partial won’t help you avoid all of these issues, but a dental implant will!
Why Is a Dental Implant Such a Great Solution For a Single Missing Tooth?
First, it’s important to note that everyone has unique circumstances, so there may be people who would actually do a better with a partial denture or bridge. That’s why it’s important to start with a consultation so you can discuss the pros and cons of each choice with a dentist in Flagstaff.
Having said that, there are several drawbacks to both partial removable dentures and bridges. A “partial” increases the risk of cavities on adjacent teeth, won’t prevent bone loss, and will need to replaced periodically. It also won’t feel or function like a natural tooth, so it will take getting used to.
Bridges require grinding down the two healthy teeth on either side of the missing space so they can serve as anchors for the bridge. They only last an average of 10-15 years and can be difficult to clean, increasing the risk for cavities to develop on the anchor teeth. Bridge also don’t prevent bone loss.
Dental implants in Flagstaff are ideal because they’re the closest thing to your own natural teeth. Many people say they feel so natural that they almost forget they ever lost a tooth to begin with!
About the Author
Dr. John Bacon is a general and restorative dentist in Flagstaff who understands that choosing a tooth replacement can be overwhelming for his patients. That’s why he always takes the time to weigh the risks and benefits of each choice to help his patients make the best decision for them. If you’re missing a single tooth and would like to discuss your options, he can be reached via his website or at (928) 774-1168.