Implants are one of the biggest advances in dentistry of the last fifty years. They offer a great advantages for both the patient and the dental care provider. When in place, implants look, feel, and function just like natural teeth and with a little care, they can last a lifetime. They’re a huge gift to both patients and providers and a real advancement in the field of dentistry.
Despite all these pros, however, dental implants are not always the best choice for every patient. Individual needs and circumstances may dictate that another form of prosthesis will work better for the patient in question–and that’s OK! The good news is that there are a number of alternatives to dental implants that can bring many of the same benefits to the patient. Let’s take a look and learn about a few of them.
While they may seem old-fashioned to many of us, conventional dentures are commonly used and with good reason–they offer an effective way to replace missing or lost teeth. Dentures work as a set of artificial teeth attached to a plate or form which in turn adheres to existing structures within the mouth. Dentures allow for a normal range of actions albeit with a little care. They’re a tried and tested approach and may work well for some patients for whom dental implants aren’t appropriate.
Depending on the nature of the damage, a simple root canal may fill the role sometimes occupied by a dental implant. A root canal works by replacing the infected inner pulp of a damaged tooth with a rubbery substance called gutta percha and then installing a prosthetic crown on top. This creates a tooth that looks and feels natural and allows a near-normal range of functions. With a little extra care, a root canal can last for years if not a lifetime. For patients with a single damaged tooth, a root canal may be an easier, better choice than an extraction and dental implant.
If more than one tooth is damaged, or several teeth are missing, dental bridges might be an effective choice. As the name suggests, a dental bridge is a prosthesis that works by installing one or more artificial teeth which are anchored to the healthy teeth on either side, much like a bridge crossing a river. Dental bridges restore some level of normal feel and function, last for years with some extra care, and are much quicker and easier to install than implants. All of this combined may make them a better choice for some patients, based on individual needs.
So which is best for you, dental implants or one of their alternatives? As we discussed above, that will depend greatly on your individual circumstances, needs, and goals. Your dentist can explain what’s going on inside your mouth, and what you need to have the best possible smile. They’ll guide you to the right choice for you, so if you have a question about this or any other oral health need, get in touch and make an appointment today.