When you lose or damage a natural tooth, you have several options for replacing it with an artificial one, often referred to as a fake tooth. Depending on the type and purpose, common names for fake teeth include dental implants, dentures (full or partial), bridges, and crowns.
Types of Fake Teeth
There are four main categories of artificial teeth used to replace missing or damaged natural teeth:
Dental implants are the closest thing to natural teeth in terms of look, feel, and function. They are made from biocompatible titanium and surgically inserted into the jawbone, fusing with it through a process called osseointegration. The titanium post anchors the implant, while a realistic-looking porcelain crown is attached to the post to replicate the visible part of the lost tooth.
As the most durable and stable long-term tooth replacement option, dental implants restore full chewing power and help prevent bone loss in the jaw. They can last decades with proper care. However, implants may not be suitable for some patients due to health issues or insufficient bone mass in the jaw.
Dentures are removable sets of artificial teeth designed to replace partial or full sets of missing teeth. They can be made from plastic, porcelain, or metal materials and sit snugly over the gums.
There are two main types:
- Full dentures replace all teeth in an arch and can be removed by the wearer for cleaning.
- Partial dentures fill in gaps left by multiple missing teeth and utilize remaining natural teeth for support. Metal or acrylic bands link the partial denture teeth together.
While dentures restore chewing ability and a natural smile, they must be removed daily for cleaning and may require adhesives to stay firmly in place. Bone loss occurs over time as pressure is no longer applied to the jawbone. As a result, dentures may need to be adjusted or remade every few years.
Dental bridges involve placing an artificial tooth anchored on either side by natural teeth or implants. The anchoring teeth are fitted with crown caps to securely hold the fake tooth in position.
There are several types of bridges:
- Traditional bridges utilize crowns on natural teeth on either side of a gap.
- Cantilever bridges are supported by teeth on only one side.
- Maryland bonded bridges use wings bonded to the backsides of adjacent teeth.
Bridges restore chewing function and appearance but do rely on the health of anchoring teeth. With proper care, bridges can last over a decade on average.
Dental crowns, also referred to as caps, fit over damaged teeth to restore their shape, size, and strength. Made custom to each tooth, crowns can be fabricated from ceramic, porcelain fused to metal, gold alloys, or base metal alloys.
While not a true tooth replacement, crowns repair and protect injured or decayed teeth that might otherwise require extraction. They are an integral part of tooth-anchored bridge placements as well. With gentle daily care, crowns typically last about 10-15 years before replacement is needed.
Costs and Insurance Coverage
Fake tooth solutions range widely in cost depending on the type:
- Dental implants cost $1,500 – $6,000 per tooth on average. They are the most expensive option.
- A full set of dentures can range from $1,000 – $3,000.
- Dental bridges cost $500 – $1,500 per false tooth, in addition to crowns on anchoring teeth.
- Individual dental crowns range from $500 – $3,000 each.
Several factors affect the ultimate price, including:
- Number of teeth being replaced
- Materials used
- Additional procedures needed
- Dentist fees based on location and experience
While quite an investment, fake teeth solutions can be partly covered by dental insurance. Coverage varies widely but averages around 50% for dentures, bridges, and crowns. Implant coverage is less common but is gaining traction with some plans. Talk to your provider to learn your policy specifics.
Additional financing options are also available through independent lenders and some dental offices to help manage costs.
Uses and Benefits of Fake Teeth
No matter what you call them, fake teeth offer a variety of valuable uses and benefits:
Restored Chewing and Biting Function
Fake teeth – whether implants, dentures, bridges or crowns – restore the ability to effectively chew, bite into, and enjoy a variety of nutritious foods. This ensures proper nutrition.
With missing teeth, the tongue can slip into open spaces, affecting speech clarity. Fake teeth allow for clearer pronunciation and easier communication.
Enhanced Facial Structure and Smile
Fake teeth fill out a sunken mouth, recapturing facial symmetry and an attractive smile. This restores self-confidence.
Protection of Healthy Teeth
Bridges and crowns stabilize damaged teeth that might otherwise require extraction. Implants prevent bone loss in the jaw.
Longevity with Proper Care
While not identical to natural teeth, today’s modern materials allow fake teeth to mimic the look, feel, and function of the real thing. With gentle daily maintenance and occasional repairs, they can last many years before replacement is needed.
Choosing the Right Solution
Several factors come into play when deciding which fake tooth solution is best for your needs:
- Number, location, and health of remaining natural teeth
- Ability of the jawbone to support an implant
- Preference for non-removable or removable replacement teeth
- Cosmetic concerns related to visibility and smile aesthetics
- Budget and financing options
During a thorough dental examination, your dentist will assess these criteria, evaluate overall oral health, and make an informed recommendation.
For some patients missing several sequential teeth, a partial denture combined with a bridge may be advised. Others with minimal natural teeth remaining may do well with full dentures or several strategically placed implants. It comes down to developing a customized treatment plan tailored to each patient’s unique needs.
Caring for Fake Teeth
To maximize longevity, fake teeth require conscientious daily care and maintenance. General guidelines include:
Daily Home Care
- Brush using gentle motions and a soft bristle brush
- Floss carefully, avoiding damage to connections
- Rinse well after eating and remove dentures when sleeping
Professional Cleanings & Checkups
- Visit your dentist every 6 months
- Have dentures professionally cleaned to prevent stains and bacteria buildup
- Monitor crowns and bridges for looseness indicating a poor fit
Protect from Impact
- Wear a mouthguard during contact sports
- Avoid chewing excessively hard foods like ice or hard candy
With diligent daily cleaning and checkups, you can keep your fake teeth functioning optimally for many years. Alert your dentist promptly about any discomfort, looseness, or damage so repairs can be made before expensive replacement is needed.
Losing natural teeth for any reason can negatively impact oral health, nutrition, speech, and self-confidence. Thankfully, modern fake tooth solutions like dental implants, dentures, bridges, and crowns allow for comfortable, functional, and cosmetically pleasing tooth replacement. They restore the ability to eat, speak clearly, protect healthy teeth, and smile brightly.
With routine dental care and maintenance, fake teeth can mimic the look and feel of natural teeth for many years. While costs vary widely, more and more insurance plans now offer partial coverage. Your dentist will recommend the right solution based on your budget, lifestyle needs, and the health of remaining teeth.
So rest assured – whether you end up with an implant, bridge, denture, or crown, you’ll be able to flash your pearly whites with confidence again. Consistent care is key, but the results are well worth it.