ALTERNATIVES FOR TOOTH BRIDGES
I’m missing an upper molar tooth and was told that I need to replace it with a bridge. I don’t want to grind my teeth down for a bridge. Is there any other solution?
AA missing molar is a very important tooth to replace as it does most of the grinding. However, when one waits too long before replacing a missing tooth, then very often, the jaw bone that was holding the tooth melts away – a process called bone resorption. It’s very similar to what happens when a muscle shrinks when it doesn’t get used or exercised regularly. Use it or lose it, as they say.
Having said that, most bone resorption takes places within the first year of taking the tooth out – almost 40 per cent. But there are options in case of lost bone as well.
One option is the placement of narrow or short implants in areas with limited bone. We have implants as short as 5mm and as narrow as 3mm and they perform as well as their bigger cousins.
A second option is to use grafted bone. Grafted bone can be of synthetic or animal origin or from a donor. Small grafts can be placed easily and will not add significant time to the procedure. Larger grafts when there is lot of bone missing can add a few more months to the overall time.
A third option is to go for a procedure called a sinus lift where the sinus floor is moved up a little to make room for an implant.
A detailed consultation can usually reveal a lot more information and multiple solutions. An implant is usually the best option by far in most situations.