One of the defining features of biological dentistry is the emphasis on biocompatibility. We go to great lengths to ensure that all the materials and techniques that we use support the whole body health and well-being of every patient we see.
That means we also take a conservative approach to care. That’s because the more that a tooth gets worked on, the more vulnerable it becomes to future problems – including the ultimate loss of that tooth.
Lost/Missing Teeth Need to Be Replaced
Of course, there are other reasons why you might lose teeth. Gum disease is the most common. Adult teeth can also be lost to things like decay, injury, and chronic illness.
No matter the cause, it’s important to get them replaced – even if they’re further back in your mouth and don’t really show much when you smile. Not replacing them can lead to problems such as drifting teeth, which is more than just a cosmetic issue. It can throw your bite off balance, potentially leading to dental or TMJ pain. It can lead to oral hygiene challenges, excess wear on the remaining teeth, and problems with chewing or speaking, among other issues.
And these problems, of course, have their own consequences.
Missing teeth can also lead to loss of jawbone structure. That’s because teeth play an important role in maintaining the height and strength of the alveolar ridge, which is the bony structure that supports them. Tooth roots stimulate this bone so the brain knows to send nutrients to it. Since this can’t happen when a tooth is missing, the bone deteriorates. Surrounding teeth can become less stable. When many teeth are missing, this bone loss can actually lead to changes in your facial appearance.
What Are My Options for Replacing Missing Teeth? What’s the Best Option?
For a long time, there were just two options for replacing missing teeth: bridges and partial dentures.
A bridge is one or more false teeth that are supported by healthy teeth on either side. A well-designed, well-made, and well-seated metal-free bridge can be an excellent solution, both functionally and aesthetically. The downside is that most bridge preps involve cutting down and shaping those healthy teeth so they can hold the bridge in place. Bridging teeth may also stress the affected energetic meridians.
Because of this, many biological dentists recommend bridges only when other options are not viable or desirable. When they do place bridges, they often use one of the more conservative forms of bridge prep, such as the Maryland or Carlson bridge, which minimize the work needed on the two teeth that will support the bridge.
A partial denture is just what its name describes, replacing a few teeth rather than a full set. Today’s lightweight. super strong thermoplastic materials make it possible to create even single-tooth “pop-ins.” A partial is typically in order when you have multiple teeth missing in a single arch but at scattered sites rather than right next to each other.
While both bridges and partials can ensure that your remaining teeth don’t drift, bone loss is still a real concern – unless that dental work is supported by dental implants.
The Advantages of Dental Implants
You can think of a dental implant as an artificial tooth root that is surgically placed in your jaw. Implants can be used to support crowns, bridges, partials – even full dentures! The implants integrate with your jawbone and provide the same kind of stimulation as natural teeth. The bone will continue to be nourished so it stays strong and healthy.
While the vast majority of dental implants being placed today are made of titanium alloys (titanium blended with other metals, including some toxic ones such as aluminum and nickel), here at the Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey, we place only zirconia implants. These metal-free ceramic devices are broadly biocompatible, while also providing superior aesthetics.
Not only do they skirt the risks of metal implants, such as toxicity, corrosion, and oral galvanism; ceramic implants may have other benefits, including better osseointegration (integration with the jawbone) and better resistance to bacterial build-up.
But best of all? ZIrconia dental implants look and function like natural teeth, and while the restorations or prosthetics they support may periodically need to be replaced, implants are the longest lasting option currently available, potentially lasting a lifetime.