No Risk to Natural Teeth
Ideally, replacing one lost tooth wouldn’t put your remaining natural teeth at risk. But that’s what can happen with removable dentures and dental bridges.
Removable dentures have clasps and hooks that go over your natural teeth for support. Often, these are metal, and the metal can cause considerable wear on your natural teeth. Even if the support structures are soft, they cause bacteria and food residue to collect on the natural teeth. This can accelerate tooth decay and periodontal disease, which can lead to premature loss of the supporting teeth.
With dental bridges, the potential risk to natural teeth is even greater. Dental bridges are supported by dental crowns placed over natural teeth. To place a dental crown, we have to remove natural tooth structure, often healthy tooth structure. This weakens the supporting teeth, and can make them more susceptible to decay, damage, and even failure. Even worse, the supporting teeth are being asked to bear greater bite forces, which also puts the teeth at risk.
The risk is greatest when a cantilever bridge is used. In this structure, a single tooth is supporting an artificial tooth with no support on the other side. This puts angled stress on the tooth, which can torque and pull the tooth. These forces are not unlike a “tooth key,” a primitive extraction tool popular among dentists in the nineteenth century.
Dental implants support themselves. Barring an error during the surgical procedure, dental implants pose no risk to your natural teeth. If anything, they have the benefit of providing good support to natural teeth. The strong bond between the implant and the jawbone makes the implant a strong brace for natural teeth.