Whether you’ve lost one tooth, several, or all of your teeth, you’ll find that there are a few options to explore when it comes to replacing them with false teeth, and it is important that you replace missing teeth, even if the gap isn’t necessarily visible.
Missing teeth can affect your whole mouth in a variety of ways you may not consider. Not only could the teeth on either side of the gap start to lean in, leading to misalignment of your smile and your bite, but the jaw could shrink with no tooth to support and if you’re missing a significant number of teeth, the skin of your cheeks or lips could begin to cave inward, creating a hollowed appearance.
What can you do to prevent these undesirable outcomes? A bridge that affixes a floating false tooth or teeth to surrounding natural teeth is one option, but this still leaves your jaw bone with no surrogate “root” to support. Then there are partial or full dentures, removable plates that simulate missing teeth, and these could create a host of issues, from irritating gums to becoming dislodged at embarrassing moments.
When you opt for single-tooth dental implants instead, you’ll not only get the functional and attractive tooth replacement you need to smile and eat as you did before, but you’ll gain a host of additional benefits in the process. Here are some of the many advantages of choosing single-tooth dental implants over other options for tooth replacement.
An attractive smile is something that everyone notices and comments on, so when you lose teeth, it’s only natural that confidence in your smile, and your appearance in general, would suffer as a result. It’s true that any type of tooth replacement can help you here, but single-tooth dental implants are superior.
First, your dental implants will never slip out of place accidentally. The crown, or false tooth, is anchored to the jaw by a titanium screw. Dentures, which are only held in place with a temporary fixative product, could accidentally come loose when you’re laughing, eating, or drinking, leading to an embarrassing situation. This will never happen with dental implants.
A dental implant not only looks the most like a natural tooth, but it also offers the closest approximation of function. It is designed to fit perfectly in the gap where your natural tooth once was, so as to preserve your natural alignment and bite pattern. This is how bridges and dentures work, as well. However, single-tooth dental implants are affixed to the jaw, rather than wired to neighboring teeth or held in place with denture fixative.
This means that you can eat, drink, brush, and floss just as you normally would. Dentures limit what you can eat and drink, and even if you’re careful, they could come loose during wear. With bridgework, you might have trouble effectively brushing or flossing around false teeth, leading to potential oral health issues like plaque and tartar buildup, and the tooth decay and gum disease that can follow.
In addition, dental implants preserve not only your alignment and bite, but also the structure of your jaw. When a tooth is lost and there are no longer roots to support, the bone of the jaw can recede in that area, creating a hollow. With dentures, this will mean adjustments. With a dental implant, the titanium post goes deep into the jaw and bonds with the bone, acting as a sturdy anchor for the crown above, so that you can chew normally, but also preserving the integrity of the bone.
Dental implants are easily the longest-lasting option for tooth replacement. They may come at greater up-front expense, but you’ll get your money’s worth. Bridges must be replaced or upgraded if anchor teeth on either side are compromised. Dentures may need constant adjustment as your jaw bone shrinks.
Dental implants, or at least the portion implanted in your jaw, will last a lifetime. The crowns that sit on top, like other types of false teeth, are good for about 10-15 years in general, with proper care. Still, your dental implants will give you everything other options provide, plus increased functionality and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can eat, drink, smile, laugh, brush, and floss with confidence, just as you would with natural teeth.
Teeth are extremely durable, but they’re hardly immune from damage, and often, we behave in ways that are harmful to our teeth without even knowing it. The foods and beverages you consume, for example, could help or harm your teeth. While calcium-rich foods like dairy products work to strengthen teeth, ingredients like sugar and acid in soda can weaken enamel, feed bacteria, and lead to tooth decay.
Although our teeth can be damaged by cracks, chips, staining, and decay, there are a variety of dental solutions designed to meet both your functional and cosmetic needs, protecting your teeth from further harm and restoring your smile simultaneously. In some cases, these treatment options can also correct issues like crowding, gaps, and uneven edges, as well.
The question is: are veneers or crowns a better option when facing these smile snafus? Which solution is right for you? Here are a few things you’ll want to consider.
Both veneers and crowns are potential solutions to dental issues like damage or cosmetic concerns, but there are a couple of key differences that will help to determine which one is the better option on a case-by-case basis. One of those differences is the amount of coverage each option provides.
Crowns offer significantly more coverage than veneers. One of the major selling points of veneers is how thin they are, generally less than a millimeter in thickness. This allows patients to retain the vast majority of any tooth being covered, although the enamel will have to be etched to allow for the best adhesion, or bonding of the veneer material to the tooth. In addition, veneers are only applied to the outward facing surface of the tooth, or the portion that is visible when smiling.
Crowns, on the other hand, are much thicker (often 2 millimeters or more) and they cover both the front and back surface of the tooth, providing for greater strength and coverage. This may require a significant portion of the tooth to be tapered down so that the crown doesn’t add so much bulk that the final product is too large to fit with other teeth.
In order to preserve a natural appearance and a normal bite pattern, much of the natural tooth will have to be removed to make space for the crown to fit. However, because the material of the crown is so thick, it acts as the new outer layer of the tooth, ensuring that whatever remains of the natural tooth is protected, and that the patient can chew normally and smile with confidence.
With proper care, veneers should last 10 years or more. Crowns, on the other hand, could last anywhere from about 5-15 years, and often even longer. In some cases,
dental insurance will cover crown replacement after the minimum estimated life of the product has elapsed (say, five years). If veneers are considered a cosmetic procedure rather than a dental necessity, they may not be covered by insurance, but it could depend on the policy and the patient’s situation.
Severity of Damage or Cosmetic Concern
Another factor that determines whether a crown or veneers are right for you is the severity of the situation. More severe cases will often require a crown. In terms of damage, this could depend upon the amount of enamel remaining.
Adequate enamel is essential to creating the etched surface needed for proper adhesion of veneers. If enamel is too worn, you may have to accept that a crown is the better option. Also, if a significant portion of the tooth is missing, wafer-thin veneers simply won’t provide the strength needed for practical concerns like chewing food.
Severity of cosmetic issues can also dictate whether veneers or crowns are more appropriate. For minor misalignment, uneven edges, or staining, for example, veneers are likely a better choice because they allow for more of the natural tooth to be preserved. Teeth that are relatively healthy and undamaged are the best candidates for veneers.
However, if teeth are severely rotated, overlapped, or separated by gaps, veneers are unlikely to do the trick. The amount of natural tooth that can be removed, paired with the thicker, more robust surface offered by crowns makes this option the obvious choice if the patient isn’t keen to wear braces for the next couple of years to correct the problem.
Anyone who plays contact sports is probably well aware of the dangers associated with their favorite activity, including the potential for injuries of every stripe. Even athletes who enjoy less risky pursuits like jogging, cycling, or tennis, just for example, could experience injuries related to their physical activity of choice.
In addition to common injuries like sprains, strains, and broken bones, many athletes could also suffer from sports-related dental injuries. In fact, it is estimated than anywhere from about 13-39% of dental injuries occur as a result of playing sports, and some studies suggest that as many as 80% of children and adults participating in sports could suffer from a related dental injury at some point. Naturally, risk factors are higher with contact sports like rugby, football, basketball, hockey, boxing, and martial arts, just for example, but this doesn’t exclude the risk of injury in non-contact sports.
This isn’t to say you should quit your favorite sporting pursuits for fear of suffering oral trauma or losing a tooth, but you do need to be aware of risks so that you can act accordingly. Here are a few things you should know if you want to prevent and treat sports-related dental injuries.
Practice Safety and Preventive Measures If you play a sport like football or hockey, there’s not a lot you can do to lessen the impact of contact with other players. However, you can take steps to protect your teeth and preserve your oral health in the event that you are hit in the mouth or head. Many of these sports already require participants to wear helmets and/or mouth guards for safety reasons, especially in youth sports programs.
As an adult, you may not be required to wear such safety gear, depending on the league you join. This is especially true if you simply play pickup games with family and friends. However, you are responsible for your own health and safety, whether you’re playing with an established local league or you’re simply having fun with friends. Depending on the activity you enjoy, you should consider wearing a helmet and a mouth guard to protect your oral health and your overall health and safety.
You can find both suitable helmets and generic mouth guards at most sporting goods stores or online. However, if you’re in need of a mouth guard, you’re better off getting a custom fit at your dentist’s office. These custom dental guards are pricier than the generic variety, but they offer the best protection for your teeth, your jaws, and the soft tissues of your mouth (gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue).
If you simply can’t afford a custom mouth guard, a generic one is better than nothing, and you can find options that you boil to soften them and then bite to shape them to your teeth. They aren’t as good as a custom, fitted mouth guard, though, so if you play sports frequently, it’s worth shelling out the dough for the real deal.
Don’t Wait to See Your Dentist Any time you suffer trauma to the mouth while playing sports, you need to contact your dentist immediately. For minor trauma, options like icing and over-the-counter pain relievers like NSAIDs (that reduce inflammation) may suffice. However, you don’t want to assume that this is all you need without first being properly and professionally diagnosed.
If trauma to teeth is worse than you think, you could be at increased risk for tooth decay and even tooth loss as a result. Your dentist needs to evaluate your condition as soon as possible to assess the level of trauma and come up with a plan for treatment. Suppose a tooth is cracked or chipped. You might not notice until infection has set in and further compromised the health of the tooth and perhaps your oral health in general.
There are dentists that specialize in treating sports injuries, but you’ll probably want to visit your regular dentist first. In most cases, your dentist will be able to assess and treat your injury, and if damage is too severe, your dentist can always refer you to a specialist. This is the best way to preserve your oral health and prevent further damage from occurring.