One of the greatest challenges dentists have always faced is what to do about the patient who genuinely wants the dental care we recommend, but honestly can’t afford it. This commonly occurs when patients need implants to replace missing teeth but the numbers are just too high to accommodate their budget. Here are some less pricey alternatives that are available to patients who find themselves in this predicament.
Removable Partial Dentures
A well-made removable bridge has been the standard in dentistry for hundreds ofyears. With today’s new materials, you can be more comfortable, and the teeth and bridgework that holds it in place much more cosmetic. One of my favorite is the combination bridge that uses a strong, very thin metal frame with very esthetic clasps to hold the bridge in place.
Flipper teeth are made mostly of acrylic resin, and differ from cast-metal partial dentures, which are relatively inexpensive,
long-term teeth replacements with foundations made of a metal and plastic mix. Similar to an orthodontic retainer, flippers stay put in your mouth with the help of two steel wire clasps that wrap around two of your natural teeth.
When necessary, we fabricate flippers before removing your tooth, so you can put them in as soon as your natural tooth is removed. As a temporary fix, flippers are often the least expensive option for a person waiting for permanent dentures or implants. In some cases, they can beused as a long-term option. These wire and acrylic replacements are better suited for replacing a front tooth. To replace missing back teeth, a cast metal frame is preferred, as it is much healthier for the teeth and supporting bone.
The Bonded Bridge
Patients like this “non-removable” option. Of course, this option is available only if the two teeth on either side of the space are strong and healthy. We can usually do this to replace one or two missing front teeth. I have placed these “bonded bridges” for patients who were then able to smile and chew comfortably for many years after. Another advantage of this option is that the patient can always place an implant in the future. We often use this as a temporary option while an implant is healing, if it is a front tooth that needs to be replaced with a dental implant.
For many patients, the Snap-On Smile™ offers them options they never had before. It is a great solution for patients who are unable to receive permanent improvements, such ascrowns, veneers, and implants. Snap-On Smile™ is a removable replacement that feels like permanent teeth. This is a great alternative when properly restoring the mouth would be time-consuming and very expensive. No drilling, bleaching or injections are needed. In place of implants and more expensive “mouth restorations,” you can get a new set of teeth which fit over the old and can be put on and off at will. You can eat with them and start smiling again.
Patients with numerous missing teeth may not have the money, or just may not be ready, to invest in implants. These options can be a great “in-between” game plan, buying the patient time and allowing him to begin undergoing implant work when he’s ready at a future date.