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Tooth Replacement In Houston, TX: What Are My Options?

After a tooth extraction, you have multiple tooth replacement options to restore your gapped smile.

By Jennifer
Photography by Pete

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Tooth extraction is one of the most prevalent dental procedures performed in dentist offices across the U.S. More than 178 million adults aged 30 and over are missing at least one tooth, not including wisdom teeth. When our patients need to have one or more of their teeth pulled, a popular question we get asked is, “Does a missing tooth need to be replaced?” The short answer is yes.

Leaving an empty gap in your smile does more than affect its aesthetics; it directly impacts its health, too. Once a tooth is pulled, the underlying bone quickly starts shrinking in a process called bone resorption. The alveolar jaw bone relies on the pressure provided by your tooth’s root when chewing and biting down to keep it healthy and intact. With the tooth gone, this stimulation disappears, and the jawbone no longer tries to maintain itself.

As bone loss worsens, you will need a dental prosthetic to minimize or prevent the resulting damage. Otherwise, leaving your missing teeth gaps empty can lead to several issues that put the rest of your smile’s health at risk:

  • Facial sagging
  • Nearby teeth becoming loose
  • Shifting teeth and new gaps between teeth
  • Change in fit and shape of your bite
  • Further tooth loss
  • Tooth decay and cavities

Can bone loss in the jaw be reversed? You can turn back the clock some with a dental bone graft, which replaces missing bone with tissues taken either from elsewhere in your jaw or a donor. This doesn’t stop the resorption process entirely, and it will eventually return. The only way to prevent bone loss entirely is with a dental implant, which acts like a wholly artificial tooth.

Let’s take a look at the specifics of your tooth replacement options:

Dental Bridge

Dental bridges are a great, affordable way to replace one or more missing teeth in a row simultaneously. This dental prosthetic anchors your false teeth using two crowns connected to them on either side. These crowns are cemented to the neighboring teeth on opposite ends of your tooth gap, allowing your false teeth to rest comfortably in the space in-between. With good care, a dental bridge can last an average of 10 to 15 years.

If you’re missing a front tooth, you also have multiple other options than a traditional bridge. Cantilever bridges anchor themselves using a single crown rather than two. Maryland bridges forego crowns entirely and instead secure themselves via porcelain or metal wings extending from the false tooth. Both alternative bridges require less or even no tooth preparation, saving patients money and time in the dental chair. However, they’re not as strong or durable as a standard bridge, which is why they’re only used on front teeth that don’t experience the full force of your bite like molars.

How Much Do Dental Bridges Cost?

With bridges, there’s no one treatment cost. Just as everyone’s smile is unique, their specific prosthetic needs change to reflect it. When calculating a patient’s dental bridge cost, prosthodontists consider several factors:

  • Type of bridge
  • Number of false teeth
  • Materials used
  • Complexity and amount of tooth prep
  • Cost of tooth extraction
  • Dental insurance

Removable Dentures

If you need to restore multiple teeth, even if they’re not lined up neatly next to each other, removable dentures are a better option. Dentures are the most flexible to patients’ needs, allowing our prosthodontists to take on any level of tooth loss with ease. On average, dentures have a lifespan of 5 to 7 years. There are two types of removable dentures:

Partial Dentures. Partial dentures can replace anything less than a full arch of teeth. They use a gum-pink base that rests against the backs of your teeth to keep them solidly in place. We can add clasps that better secure your false teeth to the real ones acting as their anchor for extra stability.

Complete Dentures. If you’re missing an entire arch or smile of missing teeth, your dentist will need to prepare a complete denture instead. Without any remaining teeth to support them, they rely on your jaw’s natural, unique shape. With a well-fitting prosthetic, these false teeth can stay steady without slipping or falling out, even while eating or speaking.

What Do Dentures Cost?

Like bridges, dentures aren’t one-size-fits-all. You may need multiple prosthetics prepared. You may only need three or four teeth replaced rather than an entire smile. Perhaps your tooth extraction appointment was months beforehand. Taking everything into account, your false teeth cost will vary depending on:

  • Type of denture
  • Number of false teeth
  • Materials used
  • Cost of immediate dentures
  • Cost of tooth extraction
  • Dental insurance

Dental Implants

Compared to both bridges and dentures, dental implants are considered the best teeth replacement option available. They are embedded directly into the jaw to allow a periodontist to replace a tooth entirely, root and all. By replacing the original tooth’s root, they can provide the same amount of force and stimulation. This unique advantage makes implants the only dental prosthetic that can completely prevent post-extraction bone loss. Teeth implants are composed of three parts:

  • Tooth Implant: a titanium post or screw surgically inserted in your jaw, acting as the new tooth’s root
  • Abutment: the piece connecting the implant and crown and keeping the entire false tooth together securely
  • Dental Crown: the final part completing the implant and giving it the look and function of a real tooth

Although a traditional tooth implant restores a single tooth, implants can be modified to work with both bridges and dentures. The standard dental crown is replaced by a bridge or denture, anchoring them with greater stability. Additionally, these implant-supported prosthetics have greater longevity than their counterparts because the jaw stays healthier over time.

Am I Too Old For Implants?

To be a candidate for teeth implants, both your smile and general health must be in great shape. As such, many patients worry that there’s an age cutoff. Whether you’re 32 or 82 years old, you can still enjoy all that implants have to offer as long as your periodontist believes your treatment will succeed. Dental implants have a success rate of 90 to 95%, so you can rest easy knowing your treatment will be smooth sailing you get the go-ahead.

During your initial consultation, our periodontist will check that you meet the following critical criteria. You must:

  • Have a healthy mouth, particularly the periodontal system of jawbone, gums, and connective tissues
  • Be in good overall health
  • Have sufficient jawbone to support the implant
  • Be willing to wait 6 to 8 months for your finished tooth

Patients who smoke, drink, or have uncontrolled diabetes can be approved for implant surgery, but they have a higher risk of failure. These conditions can affect the mouth’s ability to heal. The implant process relies on your jaw and gums healing across months and several surgeries. Slowed healing can prevent your implant from securing itself firmly or lead to other complications, like infections.

If you don’t have enough jawbone, don’t worry. A periodontist can replace the missing material with an additional bone graft surgery. This procedure transplants new tissue, often taken from the back of the jaw, and places it where the bone is too thin. Over four to six months, this new bone fuses with the old, and this stimulation causes more natural bone to form and reinforce the jaw. Once the jaw is fully healed, you can safely start the dental implant process.

How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?

Implants require more time, precision, and specialized care to place them, and this is reflected in the treatment’s price. Implants are usually more costly than their alternatives. Still, their unmatched longevity and health benefits make them an incredibly worthwhile investment. Like other prosthetics, a patient’s dental implant cost depends on several variables:

  • Type of dental implant
  • Number of visits
  • Cost of titanium implant
  • Cost of abutment
  • Cost of dental crown
  • If bone grafting is required
  • Cost of tooth extraction
  • Whether dental sedation is used

However, unlike bridges and dentures, teeth implants are often not covered under dental insurance plans. Several full coverage plans do include them, but many only include part of the dental crown’s cost, not the abutment’s or titanium implant’s.

No matter what, Nu Dentistry is dedicated to ensuring our patients never have to worry about their dental work breaking the bank. Along with accepting all PPO dental insurance, our Houston dental office offers multiple alternative financing options to make managing your payments easy. With CareCredit Dental and our in-house membership program, our caring team helps guarantee that you can get affordable dentures, bridges, and dental implants.

Are you excited to finally fill in the gaps in your smile and restore it to its old self? The Nu Dentistry team is here to help! You can reach us at (832) 916-4144 to schedule a prosthodontic consultation with us today.

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