Discussion with Hoo Swee Tiang
If you are missing one of more teeth and have realized that this affects your smile, speech and chewing, fret not, because there are a few ways to replace your missing tooth or teeth:
– Dental Implants
A dental implant is a metal (titanium) structure that is surgically placed beneath the gums over a series of appointments. The implant must be given time to fuse (integrate) to the jawbone which then serves as a stable base for the replacement of teeth that may be a crown, bridge or denture.
Well-integrated” implants are very stable providing patients with a natural “feel” that is almost identical to that of normal teeth especially when eating or speaking. Most patients report that the teeth also look more natural and more comfortable in long term use.
– What is the procedure of placing implants?
Surgery is first done to place the metal implant under the gums into the bone. Thereafter, depending on the type of implant system as well treatment needs, the connector that connects the metal implant to the artificial teeth may be placed immediately or up to 6 months later via a second surgery.
After the gums have healed sufficiently, the artificial teeth are then made and fitted to the implant. This process can take up to 2 months to complete.
– Can anyone have an implant?
No. Placing of dental implants requires surgery, hence there is a pre-requisite that patients must be in good health with healthy gums as well as be committed to maintaining good oral hygiene. Your general dental practitioner would be able to advise you on your suitability to receive dental implants after a thorough evaluation of your condition.
– Can an implant last forever?
The average lifespan of an implant is about 10-15 years based on current evidence. There can be many reasons for the failures of implants with some failures due to the poor oral health of the patient. However, recent developments in the research and development of implants have enabled implants to last longer. A daily, meticulous oral hygiene practice is still recommended not just for implants to last longer, but to get good oral health and lower incidences of gum disease and tooth decay.
– Dental Bridge
Dental bridges are also known as fixed partial denture; and as the name goes, are “fixed” onto remaining teeth in order to replace the missing teeth between them. The artificial teeth literally acts as a “bridge” between the remaining natural teeth and the gap caused by the missing teeth.
The restoration can be made from a variety of materials like gold, ceramics, metal alloys and a combination of these materials. The finished bridge and is cemented (or glued) to the surrounding teeth for support. In other words, the bridge can only be removed by a dentist once it has been cemented.
Dental bridges can also be used together with implants to replace a few missing teeth with the difference that instead of relying on natural teeth for support of the bridge, these implanted-supported bridge will rely on the implant (which is a metal structure that has been fused to the bone) for support.
– Procedure involved in the making of a bridge:
Your general dental practitioner will first assess and do a thorough evaluation of your oral health and needs. Once that has been done and both you and the dentist have decided on using a dental bridge as the treatment option, the dentist will begin to prepare the natural teeth that is used for the support.
Thereafter, the dentist will make a model of your prepared teeth as well as the gap and fabricate the bridge. The whole process usually takes a few weeks. In some cases, where the bridge is extensive and the bite or facial appearance needs to be changed, the process can take several months. For more information, please check with your general dental practitioner.