If you’ve lost one or more teeth due to periodontal disease or injury, thank your lucky stars you don’t live in colonial times when George Washington-style wooden dentures were your only option for tooth replacement. There are several modern options available, although the procedure that’s right for you will depend on a variety of factors. To help you decide, here are the pros and cons of two of the most popular tooth replacement options: dental implants and crowns.
Dental implant tooth replacement overview
Dentals implants are titanium structures that are surgically implanted into the jawbone. Over time, the bone fuses to the metal in a process called osseointegration. Once the implant and bone have securely bonded, a prosthetic tooth is attached. A dental implant is a strong and sturdy replacement that looks, feels, and functions just like a natural tooth.
Dental crown overview
A dental crown is a prosthetic tooth made of porcelain or ceramic that fits over an existing tooth. It is used in cases where the tooth root remains healthy but the part of the tooth above the gum is damaged or decayed. The existing tooth is first filed down, and the crown is fitted over the top. Dental crowns are also used in fixed-bridge tooth replacement. This process involves a crown attached to each adjacent tooth that holds a prosthetic tooth in place in between.
Dental implants for missing teeth: Pros
Stability: Implants are as stable as natural teeth and don’t slip or shift, which allows you to chew and speak easily. They also prevent nearby teeth from shifting to fill in the space left by a missing tooth.
Durability: Titanium is very resistant to decay, and high-quality implants can last a lifetime. If you do manage to damage the prosthetic tooth, another one can be easily attached to the already-implanted base.
Cost-effectiveness: While implants are initially more expensive than other tooth replacement options, their life-long durability means no further costs in the future, unlike crowns, which need to be replaced after about 10 years.
Dental crowns: Pros
Simplicity: Dental crowns and bridges require a simple dental procedure involving two to three visits to your dentist, with no surgery or sedation involved.
Affordability: The upfront cost of dental crowns is significantly less than the cost of dental implants, especially if you need more than one tooth replaced. Additionally, dental insurance usually covers most of the cost of crowns.
Compatibility with bone loss: Dental implants demand a healthy jawbone, so if you have jawbone loss or damage, crowns and bridges are your best option—and the only alternative to uncomfortable dentures.
Dental implants for missing teeth: Cons
Time investment: The osseointegration process can take time to complete, and if a bone graft is needed prior to the implant placement, it will add to the time it takes to complete the dental implant procedure.
Candidate limitations: Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. Certain chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, can interfere with the healing process, and smoking doubles the risk of an unsuccessful implant procedure.
Significant cost: In general, implants are around three times as expensive as crowns, and while most dental insurance covers crowns, implants are often classified as “elective” and often do not qualify for full or even partial coverage.
Dental crowns: Cons
Irreversible alterations: In order to fit crowns over existing teeth, the tooth must be reduced and reshaped—a process that is sometimes painful and cannot be reversed.
Cleaning difficulty: The design of crowns and bridges make brushing and flossing quite a challenge. Specialized toothbrushes and flossing tools are often required.
Risk of decay: Crowns and bridges rest over the top of the gums, which means the underlying gums are at risk for periodontal disease. Also, without a tooth to support the jawbone, the bone will eventually deteriorate and possibly lead to further tooth loss.
Need help making a decision? Town Center Dentistry Rancho Bernardo can help
At Town Center Dentistry, our dental specialists are highly trained and skilled, and have the expertise to advise you on the best treatment for your unique tooth replacement case. Want to learn more about dental implants and crowns? Give us a call to schedule your free consultation today!