So we’ve covered the removable options for tooth replacement. If that doesn’t sound like something
that you’d like because taking something in and out of your mouth sounds like a hassle or you have a
gag reflex and you don’t think you can have these things in your mouth, there are other options.
Some people get bridges. These generally span three teeth, but they can be made to go for a further
stretch. Most of the time these need one to two teeth on either side of the missing tooth to cover the
missing area. These are a little bit on the costly side because it’s literally a few crowns fused together to
cover the span. Each tooth costs the same as a crown so depending on how big the span is is how much
money you’re going to be spending on the bridge. If it’s only a single tooth replacement, it’s three teeth
involved in the bridge. This has been the standard of care for a single missing tooth for years, but it is
slowly transitioning into implants. One of the main considerations with a bridge is that it can take a
perfectly healthy tooth and make it into a bridge which can reduce the lifespan of the tooth. Bridges
decay and fail all the time. Just because they are non-removable doesn’t make them permanent. When
considering a bridge, you have to consider that it will fall off, warp, decay or break within 5 to 15 years
and then you have to replace all three units at the same time. With inflation, that might be a significant
expense. For tooth replacement, it is a good option, it is middle of the road as far expenses are
concerned, but the long term expenses are usually greater than those of an implant. Insurance
companies are covering these between 5 and 10 years to replace them.
Newer on the scene is implants. These are titanium posts that are screwed into your jaw. Most people
think that the tooth placed on top of the implant is the “implant”, but technically it is just the screw
placed into your jaw. After that has been placed, there is a post screwed into the implant so the
replacement tooth (crown) can be placed on it. Those are what we call an abutment and crown. Since
these are new on the scene, and because insurance companies are stuck in the 1970’s, not every
insurance company will cover them. Sometimes you will have a policy that will cover the implant,
sometimes it will only cover it if there are two perfectly fine teeth on either side of it, sometimes they’ll
only cover the crown. It just depends on how your insurance policy was set up by you or your employer.
Implants do have a failure rate, maybe 2% of them will fail. Otherwise it’s just the crown breaking or the
abutment loosening. When that happens, you just replace the crown. This is generally covered by
insurances every 5 to 10 years. The nice thing about implants is that it doesn’t affect the teeth around
it. There is no grinding down of surrounding teeth and it is only replacing the one tooth that is missing.
Wait for next time, there’s more to learn about missing teeth!