Despite advances in dentistry, tooth loss remains a problem for many American adults. In fact, according to the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2004), 3.75% of Americans adults aged 20 to 64 have no remaining teeth. According to the same report, the mean number of remaining teeth for American adults aged 50 -64 is 22.30.
In the past, the options for replacing missing teeth were limited. Now patients with missing teeth have a variety of tooth replacement options including the following: bridges, partial dentures, full dentures and dental implants.
A bridge is a fixed dental prosthesis used to fill the gap between at least two teeth. With a bridge, a pontic or false tooth is supported on either side by the adjacent or abutment teeth. A removable or partial denture consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Full dentures are upper and lower plates that take the place of a full set of teeth. Lastly, dental implants are prosthetic screws or anchors that are inserted into the jawbone to take the place of missing tooth roots. Once they are fused with the bone in the jaw, a crown, bridge or partial denture may be secured to the dental implants to take the place of missing teeth. Of the four options mentioned above, dental implants are the only option that provides for permanent replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth. Dental implants are a more costly solution than the other options, however, if properly maintained, dental implants can last for a patient’s lifetime.
Replacing missing teeth is important for maintaining good oral health and protecting your remaining teeth. If you are currently missing a tooth or teeth, talk to a qualified dentist in your local area about the tooth replacement options available to you.
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