One of the concerns that is sometimes raised about dental implants is that they work too well. That is, they work so well that dentists might come to lean on them all the time and not make sure that people understand that they have other options in situations where a dental implant might be used, options that might be less expensive and more appropriate in a given situation.

So we’re taking the time to make sure that you understand that a dental implant isn’t the only answer, and isn’t always the best answer.

mature couple in their home

Gum Disease Treatment

If you have a tooth that is loose and may be “hopeless,” it might still be saved with gum disease treatment . If the gums are receding and there has been bone loss around the tooth, that doesn’t mean that the tooth is guaranteed to be lost.

With gum disease treatment, we can clean out the infection around your tooth, and hopefully the tooth will heal. Sometimes we might splint the loose tooth or teeth to natural teeth that are stable. This can help stabilize the loose teeth and give them time to heal. Then you’ll still have your natural tooth for longer, potentially the rest of your life. This costs significantly less than a dental implant. And Pinhole ® Gum Therapy can be used to restore the natural contour of your gums.

Caveats: For a tooth that is designated “hopeless,” the success rate is lower than that for dental implants. And because we’re preserving your natural tooth, it will continue to look as it had, so if you’re unhappy with the appearance of this threatened tooth, it might not be the best choice. Plus, sometimes the infection is so serious that we want to remove teeth to better control the risk that the infection could spread to other parts of your body.

Root Canal Therapy

If your tooth is threatened by an infection inside the tooth, we can use  root canal therapy to clean out the tooth and make it stable again. The tooth will be reinforced and topped with a dental crown . The success rate for root canal therapy is comparable to that for dental implants, and it has the benefit of retaining your natural tooth. Plus the dental crown means that the appearance of the tooth will be improved, too. If you later need to replace the treated tooth, you will usually be able to get a dental implant, and in the meantime, you get to enjoy the benefits of having a natural tooth rather than an implant. Cost is slightly less than for a dental implant.

Caveats: Whether a root canal is appropriate or not depends on the state of your tooth. If the tooth root is damaged, a root canal is not recommended. Sometimes an infected tooth can be a serious risk and needs to be extracted right away. Extraction is best for badly damaged or seriously infected teeth.

Dental Bridge

If you can’t save the tooth with either gum disease treatment or root canal therapy, you can often get a dental bridge that will perform the same function as a dental implant. With a dental bridge, the replacement tooth is supported by dental crowns on teeth next to the missing tooth.

Dental bridges are fully fixed in your mouth. They’re not loose and won’t slip out, so your diet won’t be impacted, and they can look as good as dental implants. Plus the dental crowns on neighboring teeth can be very helpful if they have been damaged.

Caveats: Dental bridges don’t stimulate your jawbone and gums the way a dental implant does. This may not matter, but it can potentially cause collapse of the gums under the replacement tooth. And if the supporting teeth aren’t fully healthy and strong, they may be put at risk by having a dental bridge placed over them. That’s because two teeth are now being asked to do the work of three. Because of this restriction, we only recommend dental bridges in limited situations where they don’t cause much increased risk to your natural teeth.

What about Dentures?

We didn’t mention removable partial dentures because they aren’t as good as dental implants. Removable dentures don’t look or function like natural teeth, and they can be uncomfortable, even damaging. This is especially true of removable partial dentures, which rarely work well enough to help you chew naturally. Removable partial dentures also collect food and plaque around them, encouraging tooth decay. Those secured with metal wires and hooks can erode teeth, increasing the risk of tooth loss.

An exception is The Denture Fountain of Youth®, a quality denture, which replaces all your natural teeth. This type of denture looks natural and encourages better biting and chewing function. While not as good as implant-supported dentures, they are close.

Still Looking For The Best Option To Replace Your Teeth in Wilmington, NC?

But if you are looking to retain, repair, or replace your natural tooth in Wilmington, NC, we offer several truly good options. Please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with implant dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.