6 alternatives to conventional dental implants

Our dental practice, in London, prides itself on offering a range of options and alternatives to any possible treatment plan. In this article, we explore some of the best alternatives to conventional dental implants.

Our six best alternatives to conventional implants are:

  1. Same-day teeth
  2. Mini implants
  3. Conventional dental bridge
  4. Adhesive dental bridge
  5. Partial denture
  6. Do nothing at all!

Conventional dental implants will usually require the following number of implants:

  • a single missing tooth requires 1 dental implant
  • 2 missing teeth can be replaced with 1 dental implant
  • 3 to 5 missing teeth in a row would require 2 dental implants
  • 5 or more missing teeth in a row will probably require 3-6 implants

So you see, there’s not a direct comparison between the number of teeth missing and the number of implants, and therefore the cost.

The traditional implant procedure is:

  1. Have the dental implant placed.
  2. Wait 3 to 6 months for the implant to integrate into the bone.
  3. Have a dental implant restored with a dental crown/bridge/denture.

There are, however, alternatives to the above.

Same-day teeth

As the name suggests, same-day teeth are a technique whereby your existing teeth/tooth are/is removed and a dental implant is placed in the socket immediately. This is what is known as immediate placement.

This immediately placed implant gains primary stability through a threading mechanism on the outside of the implant, this ensures primary stability is there whilst secondary stability is gained via osseo integration.

Because there is this primary stability, it’s possible to place a loading onto the implant immediately and restore it with a dental bridge/denture.

The normal procedure would be to replace several missing teeth with up to six implants using this technique, this spreads the load evenly over six implants making success more likely.

Mini implants

Mini implants are much smaller than regular implants, as the name implies. This makes them quicker and easier to place as well as often being cheaper. They are more comfortable than conventional implants, but because they are not so big, it’s not possible to load implants in the same way.

You therefore may need either more mini implants placed or have to have fewer teeth restored if mini implants are used.

mini dental implants
Image credit: drbrianhoffman.com

Conventional dental bridge

A conventional dental bridge replaces a missing tooth or teeth by preparing healthy standing teeth at each end of the gap. These teeth are reduced in order to accept supporting teeth which hold the replacement tooth in place.

A dental bridge

Dental bridges tend to be viewed as more destructive than dental implants as teeth either side of the gap need to be trimmed down, this is the reason dentists usually prefer to use implants to replace the missing tooth.

Adhesive dental bridges

An adhesive dental bridge has the missing tooth in the middle supported by wings either side which are bonded onto the tongue side of the healthy teeth either side. This has the advantage of maintaining the natural teeth either side of the gap without having to reduce them very much, as in dental bridges. However, adhesive bridges have a tendency to debond, come loose and fall out more often. They are easy for the dentist to replace but this can become time-consuming for both the dentist and patient as well as inconvenient.

A dental Maryland bridge

Partial dentures

Partial dentures can often be the cheapest solution to replace missing teeth. The biggest problem is that they are removable, many patients don’t like the idea of taking teeth out at night. Partial dentures also need to be well maintained, your gums will move over time which will mean the dentures will not fit as well as they did when they were first made. You need to ensure you continue to go to the dentist to ensure that your partial dentures are looked after as time goes by.

Partial denture

Do nothing at all!

The most obvious alternative to conventional dental implants is to do absolutely nothing at all and in many situations this is a valid alternative. No one wants to have unnecessary treatment and you may find you can live perfectly well by not replacing the missing tooth at all.

However, your teeth are in fine balance with one another and you may find that the opposing teeth over erupt and the adjacent teeth begin to tip into the space.

This can mean compromising your overall bite, which will only get worse in time. This is the main reason that nothing is done at all and that dental implants are usually selected as the treatment of choice if possible.

 

Author: Dr Kala Jones

Dr Jones qualified from the Royal London Dental Hospital in 1981 and spent time both in hospital service and general practice before being appointed by University College London in 1985 as one of their dentists. Two years later she was appointed by UCL to become the Principal Dentist and has been managing The Dental Centre for the last 24 years

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