Have you been advised that dental implants are the only option for replacing your missing teeth, but the high cost or medical reasons prevent you from undergoing the surgery? Don’t worry, because there are other alternatives to dental implants that you can consider. Dental implants are the most expensive option(you can check here how much does it cost a dental implant in Colombia, which for sure is much more affordable than in United States or Canada), and the surgery can be contraindicated due to medical conditions like anticoagulation, diabetes, etc., or you may simply prefer a non-surgical alternative. In this article, we will provide you with information on alternative options to dental implants that you can explore.
Before we discuss alternative options to dental implants, it’s important to clarify that dental implants are widely considered to be the best option for replacing missing teeth. This is because dental implants are the most similar option to natural teeth, with both the root and crown being replaced, and they are durable, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to clean, allowing for better plaque control and more successful restorations. Despite this, we will still explore the other existing alternatives to dental implants.
1. Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are restorations made of ceramic or metal-ceramic material that cover the entire tooth. When used to replace a missing or fractured tooth, adjacent teeth must be filed down to provide support. This is an effective option for replacing a missing tooth that requires stability to withstand the forces of chewing. Dental crowns are also suitable when neighboring teeth have significant cavities or damaged restorations, as they can be reshaped to support the new crown for the missing tooth.
If the missing tooth is a front tooth and the neighboring teeth are healthy, it is not recommended to use dental crowns to replace the tooth. This is because the front teeth are very visible and reshaping the adjacent teeth and gums can significantly affect the aesthetics of the smile. Furthermore, as time passes, the gums may continue to recede, creating a noticeable gap between the crown and the gumline, particularly when smiling.
2. Maryland Bridge
The Maryland bridge is a great alternative to dental implants. It involves a crown with two small tabs on the sides that fit around the neighboring teeth, which may require slight reshaping or may not require any reshaping at all. The bridge is then bonded to the teeth.
The Maryland bridge is a great choice for those who have a missing tooth in the visible area of their smile, with adjacent teeth in good condition, and without bruxism. It can be a temporary solution while saving up for an implant or a definitive solution. However, it should be noted that the bridge will require several changes throughout life and is not as strong as dental crowns or implants, as it is only attached to the neighboring teeth in two places. As such, it is important not to rely on this option too heavily.
3. Removable Prosthesis (Dental Bridge)
For patients with multiple missing teeth in the smile or tooth areas, this can be a great alternative to dental implants.
When it comes to replacing missing teeth, removable prostheses can be an affordable option. These acrylic teeth are attached to an acrylic base, which is held in place with hooks that can be made of either metal for added strength or flexible acrylic for improved aesthetics. Removable prostheses are a great choice for individuals who have multiple missing teeth, particularly those who do not show much of their gums when smiling. However, there are some downsides to this option. The prostheses can become misaligned and uncomfortable when removed and repositioned, and due to the significant area they cover, they are one of the least natural-looking options available.
4. Acker dental
The Dental Acker is an acrylic tooth with gum-colored hooks on the sides that offers a quick and easy option for those in need of tooth replacement. Due to its gum-colored hooks, it is also aesthetically pleasing and conserves teeth as no carvings are required to prepare for the Acker.
This option is recommended for those missing 1-2 teeth, and at most 3, as the Acker’s mechanics rely on minimal support area, and it could become misaligned or fall out if used to replace more teeth. Patients with bite or bruxism problems are not recommended to use it as the force involved may cause it to become quickly misaligned and uncomfortable.
The Dental Acker is also an ideal choice for patients who need to wait for dental implants for 1-2 years.
5. Aesthetic Plate
The aesthetic plate is a cheaper version of the removable prosthesis, as its hooks are made of a more affordable and pliable material. This option is suitable for patients who are looking for an economical way to restore missing teeth or who are preparing for dental implants. The plate can be used during the recovery period of the implants until the installation of the final crowns. It also helps to maintain the space where the implants will be placed, as neighboring teeth may invade this space, making orthodontic treatment necessary.
6. Retainer with additional tooth (Flipper)
This solution is frequently used for children who have lost a tooth due to a fall or cavities, but cannot yet receive a dental implant because their bones are still growing, and the implant would remain completely fixed to the bone without the ability to move or adjust naturally or orthodontically.
The option involves attaching an acrylic tooth to a retainer so that a missing tooth is not noticeable when smiling, for both adults and children. For children, an acrylic tooth can be attached to a wire and secured with metal bands to keep it in place while the child grows.
This solution can also be used temporarily in adults while waiting for a final implant, as removing a retainer with a tooth attached to a wire can sometimes be uncomfortable.
7. Reimplantation of another tooth
Thanks to ultra-conservative protocols in dentistry, there is now an amazing option available that we would have never thought possible years ago. It involves reimplanting a tooth, such as a wisdom tooth, which is usually extracted due to problems, and placing it in the space where a molar is missing. This procedure requires a computed tomography study to determine its feasibility.
In cases where a dental implant is not always feasible, there are alternative treatments available for different budgets and preferences, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. It is important to consult with a dentist to evaluate your particular case and determine which option is most suitable for you.