It's fairly common to lose at least one adult tooth in your lifetime — it may have been lost due to trauma or its root may have been ravaged by unchecked gum disease. Regardless of why you've lost a tooth, you know that missing even a single tooth can have a significant impact on the appearance of your smile. It can reduce the density of your jawbone in that area, and then surrounding teeth can shift out of position.
Thankfully, there are a number of solutions to replace a single missing tooth. Of your options, a dental implant may be the best choice. A dental implant is essentially a composite crown that is attached to your jawbone with a metal rod, tightly securing it in its position in your mouth. When you're replacing a missing tooth, here are some of the benefits you'll see from a dental implant compared to your other tooth replacement options.
Maintains the Health of Your Jawbone
The main benefit of dental implants over other forms of replacing a lost tooth is that a dental implant maintains growth in your jawbone. Your natural teeth perform a very important function — the base of a tooth places pressure on the jawbone every time you chew, which spurs growth. When one of your teeth is missing, there's nothing to place pressure on your jawbone. This can lead to your body reclaiming the minerals in your jawbone in that area of your mouth in a process called resorption.
When a section of your jawbone is resorbed by your body, it can drastically change the way your face looks, causing your lips to narrow and the distance from your nose to your chin to shorten. Dental implants are able to maintain bone growth in the area, since the rod will place the same amount of pressure on your jaw as a normal tooth would — this helps you maintain a great smile and prevents your adjacent natural teeth from being damaged due to jawbone resorption. Other tooth replacement options do not attach directly to your jaw and are typically unable to support the jawbone in that area.
Tighter Fit Than Partial Dentures
Since dental implants are attached directly to your jawbone, they're secured more tightly to your mouth compared to partial dentures. Partial dentures can shift in your mouth when you talk or chew food, which can cause difficulty speaking and eating. When you only need to replace a single missing tooth, the effects of dentures on your speech can be an annoyance. You won't experience changes in your speech or with your ability to chew food when you choose a dental implant to replace your missing tooth.
Easy to Care For
Dental implants are cared for the exact same way you care for your natural teeth — you simply brush and floss them regularly in order to stave off plaque and tooth decay. Partial dentures require frequent soaking in antibacterial solution to keep them free of bacteria, and it can be difficult to adequately floss a dental bridge in order to prevent decay. This makes dental implants the simplest tooth replacement option to care for.
With their ability to support bone growth, their secure fit to your jawbone, and their ease of care, a dental implant gives you a number of benefits over a bridge or partial dentures. If you think a dental implant is the right choice to replace your missing tooth, schedule an appointment with a dentist — he or she will describe the process of installing a dental implant and ensure that your jawbone is healthy enough to support one.