When it’s time to replace one or more of your teeth altogether, dental implants are a good and long-lasting choice. But, many patients would prefer to avoid them when possible.
The medical reasons for preferring another treatment option is always up to the patient. But if you need tooth replacement, what options do you have?
Today we’re breaking down six real-world dental implant alternatives. These choices will help improve your smile while avoiding the dreaded implant.
When are Dental Implants Necessary?
The dreaded dental implant—or at least that’s how some individuals feel. In reality, anyone who has the privilege of receiving a dental implant or treatment for their decaying tooth is lucky. Throughout North America, dentistry has really only been practiced for the last 100 years.
Today dental implants become necessary when too much of your tooth has experienced decay or infection that will likely cause it to harm your oral health and possibly cause decay on your jaw.
While it’s not always the case, there isn’t another option available for repairing or restoring health to your mouth in many situations.
How do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants are often a lengthy and semi-painful procedure that requires some recovery care and time. Many individuals consider this a significant downside.
The procedure includes:
- Removing the decayed tooth (or teeth)
- Replacing it with an implant that has been surgically placed into your jawbone near where your original tooth once sat
An implant post will be placed in your jaw with the implant tooth on top of it. These implant teeth are referred to as the crown. Often, there will need to be more than one tooth repaired. You can experience significant pain and swelling because of the tooth extractions and implant into your jawbone when this happens.
Alternatives to Dental Implants
Thankfully, a few different alternatives can offer a less invasive treatment that many patients prefer over implants.
However, there isn’t always a sure fix or alternative for everyone, so be sure to look at all your options before you decide on something specific.
These alternative options are typically less expensive than implants while offering similar results, if not better success, in some cases when restoring lost tooth volume. However, on the downside, the restorative treatment can act more like a bandaid and not offer a permanent fix for the problem.
Gum Disease Treatments
One alternative to dental implants is gum disease treatments. Gum disease can cause damage or decimation of your tooth enamel, leading to decay and cavity formation over time. Severe gum disease can even cause your teeth to become loose. But, with the proper regenerative care, it is possible to restore your gums.
While this alternative doesn’t necessarily offer the best results, it’s often a good place for patients that haven’t experienced any significant loss to their teeth or jawbone structure to start. If nothing else, you’ll be able to prevent the loss of any more teeth and also keep your natural teeth longer.
Keep in mind that this won’t fix all of your problems, and it won’t improve the look of your existing tooth. It’s very important to take this treatment seriously because if you don’t, infection from your mouth could spread to different parts of your body.
Root Canal Therapy
If there’s a threatening infection inside your tooth, you can use root canal therapy to clean out the tooth and stabilize its health. This alternative to dental implants is usually used when damage or decay inside your tooth can be removed and replaced with fillings.
After the infected pulp is removed from your tooth, the filling goes in its place. A crown will be placed over the tooth to help prevent any further decay or infection. If the damage to your tooth isn’t too severe, then you might not even need a crown to seal the tooth.
Classic Dental Bridge
If you’re missing a tooth already and you’d prefer an alternative to the implant, a dental bridge might be the right treatment for you. This restoration treatment uses two crowns on either side of the space where your tooth is missing and then places a replacement tooth in the middle. Dental bridges give the allusion of an implant without the challenges associated with them.
This alternative is less expensive than dental implants and doesn’t require any surgery, but it’s not as long-lasting. As you can imagine, the bridge will sometimes get knocked loose, chipped, or broken by hard foods and chewing over time.
You’ll also need to watch your gums closely if you receive a dental bridge because your mouth won’t naturally recognize the new tooth without an implant. Keeping your mouth clean and regular brushing and flossing is a huge advantage.
Maryland Dental Bridge
Instead of preparing adjacent teeth for crowns with this bridge, the new artificial tooth is made with small wings on either side. The wings attach to the neighboring teeth after preparing for their crowns and help hold everything together until it fully heals.
One major benefit to choosing the Maryland bridge is that there is likely to be no need for anesthetic or Novocain injections because the structure of the adjacent teeth is all left intact.
Partial or Full Mouth Dentures
When implants and crowns aren’t how you’d like to improve your smile, then dentures might be good for you. Dentures are full or partial sets of replacements that fit over your gums, similar to how normal teeth would. Dentures are often recognized and associated only with aging adults, but they do offer many benefits to a multitude of users.
Dentures work by imitating how real teeth feel in your mouth when they come in contact with your tongue, cheeks, and lips. They can be custom fitted to fit perfectly in your mouth so that you and anyone who sees your smile can’t even tell the difference.
Dentures are typically much more affordable than implants or dental bridges, but they aren’t going to last as long either because of how often you’ll have to change them out over the years. As your mouth grows and shifts, your dentures will need to be replaced.
There are several different ways to attach dentures to your mouth or existing teeth. Sometimes we only think that glue and suction can hold the dentures in place. But today, there are locking dentures that take advantage of crowns to lock in place and magnetic dentures.
Patients can quickly attach or remove dentures for cleaning with both of these more advanced attachments. Long term, this can be a much more comfortable solution with less pain or discomfort caused by living with dentures.
Is Doing Nothing an Option?
A question that dentists almost always get asked is if doing nothing is an option. Sometimes you might want to avoid the dentist or the cost of treatment. But, when you ignore your tooth problems, the alternative ends up being much more expensive and difficult to treat later.
If a cavity or infection is left untreated, it can cause you serious pain in addition to making your teeth less healthy overall, which will require additional dental care down the road.
If you remove a tooth and choose not to put anything in its place, your gums, jaw bone, and other teeth around it could erode and lead to more devastating problems that cannot be fixed without more extensive surgery.
If you’ve been experiencing severe tooth pain and you think you might need dental implant treatment, our team at Wayzata Dental can help. We have experience in pain-free non-invasive dental procedures that can help you move towards a healthy mouth.
Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment today and start working towards a treatment plan for you.