When you loose a tooth, you don't only have to worry about the cosmetic consequences presented by a gap in your smile. Instead, you also have to consider how a missing tooth will affect the structure of your bite. While some options for replacing a missing tooth will give you a cosmetic solution, other options will help to maintain the structure of your bite.
The Role of a Root
As you bite down on food, pressure is transferred down from the surface of your tooth through the roots to your jaw. The stimulation thus provided will trigger bone growth to anchor your tooth and keep it strong. When you lose a tooth, there is no root to stimulate your bone, and bone loss can follow. As you loose bone tissue, a depression forms in your gums, which can trap deposits of food, which in turn can result in damage to your surrounding teeth. A further concern is that as you lose bone tissue, your surrounding teeth can move, which can cause bite problems and gaps in your teeth.
A Dental Bridge and the Lack of Roots
A dental bridge will typically use anchors placed on the teeth to either side of the gap in your smile to anchor wires. A crown is then adhered to these wires so that it looks like you have no problem with your smile. Because any pressure placed on this crown is transferred to the adjacent teeth, there is nothing to stimulate the bone where you are missing a tooth. While a bridge will repair the look of your smile, it will not function like a natural tooth, and you can still have bone loss.
A Dental Implant and Artificial Roots
A dental implant begins with a titanium post that is anchored directly to your jawbone. As you might suspect, anchoring a post to your jawbone involves making an incision in your gums and then drilling a hole in your bone in which to place the post. Once the bone has healed around the post for six months, your dentist can cement a crown to the top of the post. This provides a cosmetic solution for a missing tooth, but it also replicates the behavior of a natural tooth in that any pressure placed on the crown will transfer down your post to the jawbone, which will help to keep your jawbone healthy.
While either a bridge or an implant will mask the loss of a tooth, only an implant will function like a natural tooth. Thus, if you have the choice, you should always choose an implant over a bridge.
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