A great smile does more than just complement your look — it’s also a way for you to show off your beautiful teeth. But if you’re facing tooth loss or you have gaps in your smile, you may be smiling less or spending your time trying to hide your teeth altogether.
The good news is that there are many options to help correct a lackluster smile. Dental implants are one of the best, and they actually function more like real teeth than any other dental option. Furthermore, the implants often last a lifetime though the crowns may need to be replaced after a decade or two. However, they’re expensive and require a surgical implant for each missing or replaced tooth, which can quickly add up.
You’ll need some sort of solution, though. Our modern-day diets, as well as injuries, diseases and simple decay leave most people with a dozen less teeth by the time they’re 50, which means you’ll need to figure out how to cover up those gaps and get your smile back in order.
Here are some alternatives to dental implants to consider if dental implants aren’t right for you.
Dental Implants Alternative: Partial Dentures
Most people with significant tooth loss opt for dentures. But if you’re missing a few teeth, it’s not like you’ll want to get rid of the rest of your teeth for the convenience of dentures. That said, partial dentures can be a good option for those that are missing adjacent teeth. Without surrounding teeth, bridges and other alternatives aren’t an option, making partial dentures one of the best.
Not only are partial dentures removable for easy cleaning, but they also attach to your existing teeth with a gum-covered base that sits in the roof of your mouth. For better fit, some dentures may require a crown on supporting teeth, but in general they’re cheaper than implants and a good fit for many patients.
Dental Implants Alternative: Tooth-Supported Bridge
As the most preferable bridge option, a tooth-supported bridge is made up of two caps connected by a false tooth. The caps slide over your existing teeth, holding the suspended middle tooth in place permanently. Your adjacent teeth will need to be shaven down in preparation for the tooth-supported bridge, but as a permanent option you won’t have to worry about adjustments or removal for any reason.
Tooth-supported bridges can also be made from various materials, such as metal, ceramic or a combined solution utilizing both.
Dental Implants Alternative: Resin-Bonded Bridge
Like tooth-supported bridges, resin-bonded bridges are a solution for one missing tooth with two healthy teeth on either side. However, unlike the tooth-supported bridge, you won’t need to shape the adjacent teeth for caps — the new tooth is actually held in place by resin behind the teeth. If you change your mind down the line, resin-bonded bridges are actually removable, so it can be a good option for those that aren’t sure about a more long-term solution like dental implants.
Dental Implants Alternative: Flipper Dentures
Similar to partial dentures, flipper dentures are an affordable option made from a removable metal retainer attached to a false tooth. For the most part, flipper dentures are a temporary dental implant alternative, but you may be able to use them long-term depending on your need. If you’re curious about the long-term viability of flipper dentures, ask your dentist.
Dental Implants Alternative: Complete Dentures
If you have many missing teeth and dental implants aren’t an option, complete dentures may be right for you. However, note that dentures can be uncomfortable and click and shift in your mouth when you eat, cough, smile, yawn or talk. They’re relatively cheap and last about a decade or so, meaning that you’ll have to replace them periodically, and you’ll also have to clean them frequently to keep them looking their best.
Dental Implants Alternative: Mini Implants
If you’re avoiding a dental implant because of the cost or healing time — which can take up to six months — mini implants are a small type of dental implant that is much smaller than traditional implants; normal implants are typically three to six mm in diameter while mini implants are less than three mm. Typically used to secure a complete upper or lower denture, mini implants are a less invasive option than traditional dental implants.
Dental Implants Alternative: All-on-4
Also known as implant supported dentures, all-on-4 is an alternative to dental implants that actually utilizes dental implants to anchor permanent dentures in place. Because it’s a permanent fixture, the implants reduce a lot of the problems with traditional dentures, such as clicking and the need for frequent removal and cleaning.
By fixing either upper or lower dentures on four (or sometimes six) implants, typical bone loss associated with dentures is avoided, and that can also help avoid bone grafting surgery. That said, the procedure requires a couple preparation appointments to install the implants and monitor recovery over three to six months until the final denture can be installed. Immediately following the implant surgery, temporary teeth will be attached to the implants before the final denture.
Keep in mind that during the healing period, you’ll have to modify your diet slightly until the implants fuse with the bone and everything’s healed.
Why Look for Dental Implant Alternatives?
Most patients that are looking for an alternative to dental implants are not candidates for dental implants. That’s because their age or lifestyle may not be suitable for dental implants, which could lead to implant failure. Typically, this news will come from your dentist or oral surgeon, but many patients are deciding to arm themselves with this information before going in for a consultation.
If you smoke, drink excess levels of alcohol, have diabetes, are over the age of 60, have had chemotherapy or radiation for cancer, have low bone density in your jaw, are taking medications that interfere with bone growth, are postmenopausal with low estrogen levels or have gum disease, you may not be a candidate for dental implants.
Dental implants are also expensive, running about $4,000 per tooth or $20,000 to $40,000 for a set of implant-supported dentures, which can be prohibitively costly for some patients. While they may be the best option from an oral health standpoint, economics still play a role.
If you’re in need of an affordable dental implant alternative that requires no surgery or even a dentist visit, contact the experts at Shiny Smile Veneers. Our veneers provide an affordable, comfortable and natural looking alternative to dental implants and other types of dental work.