Dental Implants: What Are The Alternatives?
When facing a missing tooth, there are several alternatives for replacement, but the most advanced and often-recommended solution is a dental implant. As with every dental issue, the details of what that might mean for you is highly individual, with each patient being different.
At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we have several experienced implant dentists who can work with you on a treatment plan that is customized to your needs, dental history and the implant options that best suit your situation. Our cutting-edge imaging tools and our in-house ability to craft dental restorations will help shorten the timeline of your implant treatment and ensure that your replacement teeth fit your mouth and jaw flawlessly.
Dental implants function as the replacement root structure for a missing tooth, anchoring it in place in your jawbone. It often takes some time for an implant to bond with the bone and heal up to the point where a replacement tooth can be placed. But when it’s all done, you’ll have a strong tooth replacement that looks, feels and functions just like a natural tooth.
Types of Implants
The type of dental implant your dentist will recommend is based on your particular needs for tooth replacement. Because implants are anchored in and bond with your natural jawbone, its condition is an important consideration during the implant process.
The most common type of implant is an endosteal implant, which resembles a tiny screw and is usually titanium. These are placed directly in the jawbone and can support any type of dental restoration. Often, these are done with a single tooth, but it’s also possible to place several at once if you’re missing a few in a row, for example.
Another, less common type of implant is called subperiosteal dental implants. These are secured in the soft tissue of your gum and sit on or above the jawbone. They’re used in cases where the patient does not have enough healthy bone tissue to support an implant, but can’t undergo bone regeneration or augmentation to create new bone.
There are also other types of dental implants available, mostly suited to special circumstances. Typically, getting dental implants is a multi-step process spanning several months. But there is a type of implant called immediate load dental implants, which place both the implant and a replacement tooth at the same time. That’s best suited for patients with plenty of healthy jawbone and an implant secure enough to support pressure on the new replacement tooth right away.
Miniature dental implants are sometimes used in the creation of dental restorations like bridges and dentures. These are toothpick-sized implants, also called narrow diameter implants, and they are less invasive, but typically used just to stabilize other dental work.
Dental Implants Vs. Dentures and Bridges
Dental implants are permanent fixes, and should not need to be replaced in a patient’s lifetime, unlike many other types of dental restorations, like dentures or bridges. While the replacement tooth may wear out or become damaged at some point, the metal implant itself won’t be going anywhere, and will always provide a stable base to strengthen your jawbone for any future restoration, if needed.
In the case of fixed bridges, which attach a false tooth to its neighbors for support, we expect a lifetime of 5 to 15 years, the average being around 10 years. For dentures, a lifespan of 7 to 15 years is expected, and most patients, in addition, find dentures less stable and comfortable than dental implants.
Talk to your MPDG dentist about the dental restoration options that might be right for you. We’re always happy to hear from new or current patients about their concerns. You can contact us online anytime, or give us a call during office hours at (831) 373-3068.
Veneers Vs. Crowns
Among the many restorative dentistry technologies available to improve your smile and correct dental problems, it’s easy to get lost in comparing treatments and trying to figure out what the right approach for you personally might be. Here, we’ll talk about two of the more versatile options to restore good dental health and appearance: veneers and crowns.
Repairing Damaged Teeth
Both crowns and veneers have the ability to fix several common dental problems. Gaps between teeth, misshapen or crooked teeth, stains and discolorations, and minor cracks and chips are some of the dental issues for which you might be considering a crown or veneer.
Sometimes, the location of the tooth will have an impact on which is a better choice. For instance, front teeth are the most visible, and concerns about appearance might make a veneer a more attractive option when we’re trying to fix damaged teeth in the front of the mouth. The severity and location of the damage is also a consideration. Veneers are placed on one side of the tooth, while crowns repair the tops of teeth. It’s also possible to combine both restorative options depending on how extensive the damage or discoloration is and how many teeth are affected.
Here’s a little on how veneers work, and what might make them the right restorative choice for your smile. The veneers we use are extremely thin, porcelain shells that we bond directly to the front surface of the teeth in question. This stabilizes small chips and cracks, but would not address deep cracking or damage to the tops and backs of teeth.
Appearance-wise, porcelain veneers create a very attractive, clean, white and natural-looking smile, so they’re the treatment of choice for cosmetic issues like staining, discoloration, and badly shaped teeth. Crooked and gapped teeth also are common reasons for choosing veneers. If you have issues with your tooth enamel, the porcelain can help protect your teeth in place of healthy enamel.
Veneers are made especially for each patient, to match each individual tooth. They also blend in well with your other teeth, able to take on your natural tooth color because of the thinness of the ceramic layer. Veneers typically last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and would have to be replaced after that.
Crowns are also sometimes made partially of porcelain or ceramic, and traditional gold crowns are another option. Crowns, sometimes called caps, are also made to custom-fit each tooth on an individual basis. They can cover the top of the tooth and wrap around the upper part of the sides, fitting precisely as needed to cover damage, and support broken or cracked teeth. They also can smooth out jagged top edges of teeth, and preserve and strengthen damaged or worn-down teeth that otherwise might be at risk of needing a root canal or even extraction.
Crowns consist of a tooth-like covering that’s both protective and supportive, placed over the top of your natural tooth. They can be attached to other dental work, like bridges, and are a permanent restorative procedure. There are different types of crown materials and methods of fabrication, which your MPDG dentist can discuss with you and evaluate which is best in your case.
Both veneers and crowns are created in our office, customized for each individual patient using CEREC technology. This allows us to serve our patients quickly and effectively with the best dental technology available. If you’re wondering what your choices are for improving your smile, we’re happy to consult with you about how best to address your dental concerns — get in touch with us online anytime, or book an appointment with us to see a qualified and experienced MPDG dentist.
Are Veneers Permanent?
Considering veneers as a solution to fix unsightly, discolored, cracked or crooked teeth? A common concern is how long the veneers will last. Every patient is different, and some smiles may have more longevity than others, depending on the extent of the veneers needed, other dental problems, and how well you take care of your teeth.
How Long Veneers Last
As an average, the type of porcelain veneers we use here at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group last patients between 10 and 15 years before they need to be replaced. So, they are not permanent, but are a long-term fix for some dental problems. Confusion sometimes occurs with the permanency of veneers. It’s easy to think that at the end of those 10 or 15 years, the veneers will simply come off and your smile will return to the way it looked before. That’s not the case, however.
During the application of veneers to your teeth, the top layer of enamel is removed to make the bonding with the porcelain material secure and stable. This process is irreversible and without the veneers, your teeth would be unprotected. That means when the veneers reach the end of their life, you will need to replace them with new ones, since you will not have your natural tooth enamel anymore. In a sense, having veneers is permanent, but the veneers themselves are not, so you won’t keep the same set forever.
It often helps to understand exactly what veneers are. Porcelain veneers are very thin, ceramic shells that fit your front teeth precisely and are bonded directly to the surface of your teeth. They can fix problems including gaps between teeth, discoloring, graying and stains, badly shaped or crooked teeth, and minor cracks. They are used only in the front of the mouth, and are considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure, although there are restorative aspects to having veneers done. You can find out all the details of how veneers are applied here on our site.
While veneers are not permanent, they remain a popular option for restoring an attractive appearance to your smile, because they most closely imitate the strength and appearance of natural tooth enamel. The porcelain shells are so thin that light actually can shine through them. This allows them to reflect your natural tooth color and blend in perfectly with surrounding teeth. We make sure to use the highest quality of porcelain, to give our patients the longest-lasting veneers possible.
Keep Veneers Strong for Longer
There are lots of ways to maximize the longevity and appearance of your veneers. While the fine porcelain is resistant to staining from common sources like coffee and cigarettes, avoiding these and other discoloring substances like tea and red wine will help keep them looking clean and white for their entire life.
Keeping up a good at-home care routine is also really important for veneers. Brushing and flossing well will keep them healthy and looking good — our only caveat is that it’s better to use a non-abrasive or sensitive toothpaste to minimize any wear on the porcelain. And, if you are someone who grinds or clenches their teeth at night, talk to us about a recommended soft mouth guard to protect your veneers while you’re sleeping.
Other habits to avoid with veneers include anything that tends to chip or crack teeth, like chewing on ice, biting fingernails, pens or other items, and eating very hard foods. It’s also important, if you play sports, to make sure you wear a well-rated and protective dental mouth guard. We also recommend avoiding actions like using your teeth to open packaging, bottles, and condiments.
No-Prep or Composite Resin Veneers
There’s also another type of veneer sometimes used, which lasts a shorter period of time and is the result of a very different procedure. They’re sometimes called no-prep veneers because they don’t require the extensive preparation and bonding time that porcelain veneers do. Or, you might see them called composite resin veneers, for the material they’re made from.
Composite veneers resemble dental bonding more than traditional veneers, and consist of a layer of resin applied over the front tooth. They can be customized to the exact shade of your teeth, and are less expensive than porcelain veneers. But, they only last a short period of time, from five to seven years on average, according to the Consumers Guide to Dentistry. This means they will need to be replaced sooner and may even cost more in the long run, depending on how many replacements a patient goes through.
Dental Implants – A Permanent Fix
If you have a badly damaged tooth or a tooth that otherwise isn’t well suited to a veneer, another option is a dental implant. This is permanent, and replaces your natural tooth with a custom-fabricated replacement tooth. The implant is anchored by a metal post placed in the bone below the tooth, and both looks and functions just like a regular tooth. Talk with your MPDG dentist about whether this long-term restorative option might work for you.
Whichever type of veneer or other restoration treatment is best for you, our cosmetic dentists at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group are experienced with all the options and will be happy to talk with you about the decision to get veneers. We welcome patients from all across the Monterey Peninsula. Get in touch to learn more about our cosmetic and restorative dental treatments by contacting us online anytime.