If you’re missing one or more teeth — and by age 50, according to the CDC, the average American has lost 12 — it can seriously damage your oral health. From bite misalignments to worn teeth to the inability to clean properly, missing teeth can cause a host of problems, making restorative dentistry an important part of your dental health plan.

At Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. in Orinda, California, Dr. Ellis and her staff understand the importance of a full mouth of healthy teeth. That’s why they offer restorative treatments, such as bridges and dental implants, when you’re missing one, a few, or even all of your teeth. Which option is the right one for you? Let’s look at what they can do.

What is a dental bridge?

Dental bridges are a good choice if you have one missing tooth or just a few. There are four main types of bridges, and they are as follows:

1. Traditional fixed bridge

The traditional fixed bridge consists of a crown on each side of the bridge with one or more false teeth in the middle, and they’re all connected together in a unit. The crowns are placed on the existing teeth that border the gap, and the false teeth fill in for the missing teeth.

2. Cantilever bridge

This type of bridge consists of a crown that’s attached to a false tooth. This type of bridge is often used when someone only has teeth on one side of the gap. The crown is anchored to the tooth nearest the gap, and the false tooth fills in for the missing tooth.

3. Maryland dental bridge

This type of bridge is often used if you’re missing teeth at the front of your mouth. With this type of bridge, metal wings that are attached to both sides of the false tooth are bonded to the backs of your existing teeth.

4. Implant-supported bridge

Similar to a “traditional fixed bridge,” this type is anchored to one or more dental implants.

The false teeth are matched in color and size to your surrounding teeth, so no one will know you’ve had dental work done.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant replaces your missing tooth in its entirety — including your tooth root — not just the part you see above your gum line. This is important, because when you chew, the pressure you place on the roots of your teeth triggers your jawbone to create new jawbone cells.

This helps keep your jawbone strong and healthy. Without the root, your jawbone can atrophy, and your remaining teeth can move into the empty space.

Parts of a dental implant

Dental implants consist of three parts: a post, an abutment, and a crown. The post, which is made of titanium or zirconium, is surgically implanted into the jaw and acts as your tooth’s new root. The abutment is attached to the post, and the crown — which is the new false tooth and the only thing visible above the gum line — is anchored to the abutment.

Once the post is implanted, it takes about 8-9 months for ossification, which is the process for bone tissue to grow and solidify around the post. Then, Dr. Ellis adds the abutment and takes an impression to place the crown.

Benefits of a dental implant

Dental implants can provide a number of benefits, including the following:

  • Restore your ability to chew
  • Improve your appearance
  • Preserve the health of surrounding bone and gum tissue
  • Help keep adjacent teeth from shifting

And perhaps the greatest benefit of all — which other restoration options don’t have — is that implants are able to help keep the jawbone healthy by triggering the generation of new bone tissue, just as a natural tooth would.

The best way to know which option is right for you is to speak with Dr. Ellis. She’ll take into consideration your overall health, your oral health, your aesthetic goals, and your budget while making a recommendation. To learn more, call (925) 272-2698, or book an appointment online with Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. today.