General dentistry is the branch of medicine that involves the care and prevention of oral health conditions, diseases, and disorders. General dentists are usually the first people you visit when you notice any dental issue. They provide a variety of services, which include mainly preventative measures. They perform various procedures including, but not limited to – 

General dentistry also involves certain cosmetic treatments as well, like bonding (veneers), teeth whitening, and dental implants.

Dental Implants vs. General Dentistry

Dental implants are the most popular solution for replacing a missing tooth or teeth. Before the advent of implants, healthy teeth had to be ground down to make space for dental bridges. (Dental bridges include the use of teeth present adjacent to the missing space in the oral cavity.) The dental profession has constantly advocated for the preservation of natural tooth structure, and the use of dental implants upholds the same belief. 

Implants have rendered a lot of general dentistry practices either outdated or contraindicated. And the need for chopping away at healthy enamel has also been eliminated.

General Dentistry

All dentists affirm the belief that a downward spiral begins the moment a tooth is touched by a dental drill for the first time. Several studies show that crowns and bridges have a life expectancy of 9-10 years in the United States. Before 1985, tooth replacement choices were significantly poorer. These have drastically improved since the inception of dental implants, which have become the standard of care.

Added Benefits of Dental Implants vs. General Dentistry

General Dentistry (Traditional Treatments) vs. Dental Implants

One missing tooth – When a patient is missing one tooth, the two options for replacement are a single tooth implant and a three-unit bridge.

Implant Bridge
Cost Same
Treatment Time 3 months 2-5 weeks
Other Teeth Unaffected Drilled
Life Expectancy 10-30 years 5-15 years
Effect on Dentition Strengthened Weakened
Future Decay Chances No Yes

 

Several Missing Teeth – The traditional form of treatment would be a removable partial denture (RPD) to replace the missing teeth. Partial denture indicates that it’s a smaller denture, which is removable by the patient, several times a day. Most patients would prefer to have a fixed tooth if given the option. Fixed teeth on implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth.

Implant Bridge RPD
Cost More Less
Treatment Time 3 months 4-12 weeks
Other Teeth Unaffected Drilled
Life Expectancy 10-30 years 5-15 years
Effect on Dentition Strengthened Weakened
Future Decay Chances No Yes
Prosthesis Stability Like natural teeth Moderate
Ease of Cleaning Moderate Easy (outside mouth)
Comfort Like natural teeth Poor
Speech Change None Improves with time
Palate Uncovered Covered
Bone Preservation Yes No

 

Missing All Teeth – In traditional forms of dentistry, the solution to all teeth missing is dentures. While dentures do replace missing teeth and can also be aesthetically pleasing, they remain a nemesis to this day. Most denture wearers admit that dentures can be embarrassing and that they would “do anything” to preserve their natural teeth. Dentures are also difficult to adapt to, uncomfortable to wear, and painful to chew with. They also alter the wearer’s lifestyle significantly.

Implants Dentures
Cost Expensive Cheaper than implants
Appearance Good Good
Treatment time 3-12 months 2-6 weeks
Life expectancy 10-30 years 3-10 years
Effect on chewing Similar to natural teeth Poor
Prosthesis stability Like natural teeth Very poor
Ease of cleaning Moderate Easy (outside mouth)
Comfort Like natural teeth Very poor
Speech change Minimal Improves with time
Palate Uncovered Covered
Bone Preservation Yes No. Bone loss accelerated.

 

Why Don’t General Dentists Place More Implants?

Even though dental implants have become the norm for replacing missing teeth, many general dentists still do not place more implants. This is due to a couple of reasons – 

Dental implants are an investment in the health (and aesthetics) of your oral cavity. If you feel like you have a requirement, get in touch with our team at River Rock DDS today. Dr. Todd Christianson is an active member of the American Dental Association who specializes in dental implants. Rest assured, you’ll walk out of our offices with the million-dollar smile you’ve always wanted.