People who are missing teeth have several options to replace them. But which of the solutions available provides the highest patient satisfaction? A recent study by Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine researchers points to dental implants.
In the study, researchers surveyed 237 women who had lost teeth due to osteoporosis. As postmenopausal women with osteoporosis age, they are at a greater risk of tooth loss. The Case Western Reserve study is one of the first to examine the quality of life in osteoporotic women after tooth restoration treatment, with researchers asking participants questions about their satisfaction with replacement teeth and how the teeth improved their work, social and personal lives.
Women with dental implants reported a higher overall satisfaction with their lives, said Christine DeBaz, a third-year Case Western Reserve dental student. She was lead researcher on the project and personally interviewed each participant. Fixed dentures scored next highest in satisfaction, followed by false teeth and, finally, women with no restoration work.
What are Dental Implants?
The tooth replacement option that most closely mimics the look, feel and function of real teeth, dental implants are made of a titanium post (artificial tooth root) that is anchored into the jaw bone with a fixed crown or bridge on top. The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. You need to have enough bone in your jaw to support the implant, as well as healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease.
Dental implants fuse to the jawbone, strengthening the bone and the surrounding healthy teeth. They can last for years and years and are maintained the same way you clean and floss your real teeth. Clearly, the “gold standard” in tooth replacement, dental implants have an extremely high patient satisfaction rate, as evidenced by the women in the Case Western Reserve study.
Other Options to Replace Missing Teeth
Fixed dentures scored second in patient satisfaction among the Case Western Reserve study participants. A bridge or a fixed partial denture — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges), or they can be removable. Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments.
False teeth (removable dentures) came in third for patient satisfaction in the Case Western Reserve study. Dentures are a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available — complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain. Getting used to wearing dentures can take a while. Eating, drinking and speaking can all be uncomfortable at first and will take practice. Also, dentures cause a gradual loss of underlying jaw bone — so they lose their fit over time.
As with many types of dental problems, the best solution to replace missing teeth can depend on a few factors and each patient is different. If you are missing one or more teeth and would like to explore your options for dental implants, schedule an appointment with Hall and Butterfield Family Dentistry today.