Options For Replacing Missing Teeth in Adults
Losing baby teeth is a rite of passage for the young, but when tooth loss occurs in adults, the dental problem will need to be treated by a professional dentist. When kids loose teeth starting at age six, the process is completely normal and everyone can relax knowing that permanent tooth growth is not far behind. However, in the case of adult tooth-loss, the options for filling the void are dentures, dental bridges or dental implants and knowing the differences amongst the three will allow individuals in need to make an educated choice regarding the dental care selection.
There are a myriad of reasons why an adult may loose a tooth including trauma, poor nutrition, dental neglect, gum disease or bruxism. Leaving the space vacant is not really an option as in adults, the condition can lead to other dental problems such as crooked teeth, bone loss, tooth decay, difficulty finding employment, problems communicating and diminished self esteem. Only a dentist can properly diagnose the cause of the issue and offer solutions for filling the space left behind.
For thousands of years, dentures have been a popular way to recreate a missing tooth. In 2006, Archaeologists have unearthed a male skeleton sporting dentures in Mexico and further research has indicated that the find was around 4500 years old. While those false teeth are the oldest ever to be discovered, they are not the most famous fake choppers. That notoriety must go to the nation’s first President, George Washington. His fake teeth were constructed of a mix of gold, human and animal teeth and bone.
Contemporary man can now choose to have their custom-fitted dentures constructed out of plastic or porcelain and will either get partial or complete dentures based on a dentist recommendation. The process involves multiple dental office visits that could include tooth extractions, gum surgery and other restorative dental care based on the initial cause of tooth loss. Only after oral health has been restored, will a dentist make tooth molds and fit the appliances. Denture prices will vary based on the experience of the dentist and it is not unusually for a complete set of the teeth to cost as much as a family sedan.
Dental bridges are another option for filling the space where a tooth once was. The devices can also go by the moniker of partial dentures and can either be removable or permanent. The three basic types of dental bridges are traditional, cantilever and a Maryland bonded bridge.
The removable option will consist of replacement teeth connected to a gum-colored plastic base with a metal framework to anchor the fake teeth. Permanent dental bridges are called fixed and are used replace one or more missing teeth by placing dental crowns on each tooth surrounding the vacant space and affixing the replacement directly into the crown. Ultimately the fixed bridge is cemented into position.
Many dentists encourage patients to get dental implants as they are considered to be the next best thing to one’s own natural teeth. Once affixed, dental implants are permanent additions to a mouth as they will be anchored directly to the jawbone of a patient. The process can involve multiple stages including restorative dental work to improve dental health, the affixing of a tiny but sturdy titanium stud directly into the jawbone to replicate tooth root structure and then the final attachment of a the permanent dental implant.
The process can take months of oral surgery and healing. Patients with healthy teeth and gums and limited missing teeth are the best candidates for the dentistry. The New York Times has noted that dental implants are the superior tooth replacement methodology as the devices can be more cost effective over time and are easier to clean (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/health/17brod.html).
A professional dental exam is a must for individuals contemplating the replacement of their missing teeth. Only a skilled dentist can properly evaluate the current oral health of a patient, determine the cause for the tooth loss, develop strategies and provide dental treatments to improve dental health as well as lay out all the pros and cons for each and every tooth replacement option. Individuals looking to find a dentist to fix their missing teeth can count on 0900-DENTIST.
- NTI Appliance
Got migraines? If so, teeth clenching and bruxism might be at least partly to blame. The NTI appliance — a type of mouthguard — might be able to help. The NTI appliance is a tension suppression system, which simply means it prevents the clenching action. No clenching means less wear and tear to your teeth, less jaw pain and even fewer migraines.
Teeth clenching and bruxism (also known as teeth grinding) can do serious damage to your teeth over time. That’s because when you clench your teeth, you apply a huge amount of force to hold your upper and lower teeth together. This pressure is exerted when you grind, slowly wearing down the involved teeth. This can eventually lead to broken teeth, a chipped tooth filling or even tooth loss.
The Daily Grind
If you have frequent migraines, you undoubtedly know it. But you might not realize you have bruxism, since teeth grinding is most commonly something you do while you sleep. Some signs to watch for include:
- Chronic tension-type headaches
- Grinding that’s loud enough to wake your sleeping partner
- Repetitive clenching of the jaw
- A sore, painful jaw or TMJ
A Different Kind of Guard
The most common treatment for bruxism is a dental appliance called a night guard. The NTI appliance is a bite guard. What’s the difference? Most night guards protect your teeth from grinding while you sleep but do not actually stop the clenching behavior. This is good for your teeth, but it might not reduce the pain associated with bruxism, especially jaw pain and migraines.
The concept behind how the NTI appliance works is pretty simple. If you’ve ever accidentally bitten down on something hard with your front teeth, you probably opened your mouth right away. That’s because of the “nociceptive trigeminal inhibitory” (NTI) reflex, which keeps us from breaking our front teeth when we accidentally bite down on something too hard. The NTI appliance takes advantage of this reflex via an acrylic guard worn on either the upper or lower front teeth while you sleep. If you begin to clench your teeth, you bite down on the guard, activating the reflex and stopping the clenching before it starts.
Although the NTI appliance is specially fitted by your dentist, no impressions or molds of your teeth are required. The dental appliance can be fitted right in the dentist’s office in less than 30 minutes. Once properly fitted, the NTI appliance snaps into place and should not be able to be removed without using your hands.
No Risk-Free Ride
Even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the NTI appliance for use in the prevention of migraines, many dentists feel more research is needed before they make it their go-to choice for teeth grinders. Why? The NTI appliance has one major side effect: changes in your bite, specifically creating an overly open bite and putting a new strain on your jaw joint.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the NTI appliance can reduce the amount of pain felt from migraines quickly — within a few weeks of starting treatment. That’s led some dentists to consider the NTI appliance a viable short-term solution for treating serious headache pain quickly. Most caution against use for longer than three months because of the risk of serious changes to your bite and the creation of new jaw problems.
If you’re interested in the NTI appliance, talk to your dentist. Discuss the benefits and risks before deciding if it’s right for you.