Dr. Irfan (Ivan) Atcha

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Single-Tooth Implants

The Single Dental Implant

Hands down, the dental implant is the single best way to replacing a missing tooth since it removes the need to grind down the two adjacent teeth next to the space as with a traditional bridge. The grinding procedure usually leads to other problems such as a root canal or an eventual fracture in the root due to the physical stresses of chewing on the remaining teeth that the bridge sits upon. Often times, these root fractures lead to more tooth loss. When bridges get decay (and they almost always do) it often results in more tooth loss. Dental implants can't get decay! The scientific data clearly shows that using a dental implant results in a least chance of more tooth loss in this situation. If any doctor doesn't give this option when a tooth is missing, it is a good idea to quickly get a second opinion before you begin a domino effect of further tooth loss.

Tooth-Supported Fixed Bridge

A traditional bridge involves grinding down the teeth next to the empty space to support the bridge. It provides good esthetics and function and is fairly easy to for most dentists to do. However, this alternative has some very significant disadvantages that create more problems and costs later. One is the sacrificing of healthy tooth structure from the teeth next to the space to make room for the bridge. The damage and heat that occurs due to "grinding" of the two teeth along with the excessive pressures applied to the remaining teeth during chewing over several years almost always results in more long term tooth loss.

Summary of Bridge Disadvantages

  • Excessive physical stresses on support teeth
  • Must grind/shave down support teeth
  • High risk of decay
  • High risk of root canals
  • High risk of root fractures
  • High risk of more tooth loss
  • Jaw bone erodes where tooth is missing
  • Loss of facial support due to bone erosion

Removable Partial Denture (Flipper)

This is not a permanent alternative to a lost tooth. It is very unstable and loosely attached, which makes it less comfortable and ineffective for eating. The only benefit is that it is easily and quickly installed and relatively cheap. Most often this is used as 'temporary' or 'healing' teeth while permanent dental care is being performed.

Disadvantages of Partial Denture

  • Supporting teeth have more looseness and tooth loss from stress
  • High risk of decay, bone loss, and tooth loss from both problems
  • Food collects beneath the partial
  • Uncomfortable
  • Accelerates jaw bone destruction
  • Unsightly

Bonded (Maryland) Bridge

Metal wings are bonded to the adjacent teeth providing a good temporary solution while healing. This procedure has a very poor long term success rate and will not work in the back chewing areas of the mouth.

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