The normal scenario where someone has dental implants fitted is that they have lost one or more teeth, either because they have fallen out of their own accord, or because the person in question has a tooth or teeth extracted. This leads us to consider a slightly different scenario where the person still has their teeth in place, and there is a possibility that they might be saved.
A prime example of when this might be is if someone has a damaged tooth. This could be a tooth that is broken or chipped, either due to an accident or from biting down on a very hard piece of food. Here the question they need to ask is not how they are going to replace a tooth, but whether they should have the tooth repaired or extracted. Obviously, if it is the latter, then dental implants will be one of those replacement options.
If we consider tooth damage and when a repair might be the most appropriate option, we have to be aware that the enamel on our is extremely strong. In fact, it is the hardest substance that exists our entire bodies. This means that within our body is it the substance that should be able to stand up to most things it encounters.
Unfortunately, whilst it might be the strongest tissue in our bodies, it is not invincible, and even enamel cannot protect a tooth from items such as a cupboard door, a bar of hard toffee, or a cricket ball. If any of these happen to come into contact with our teeth then enamel can do nothing to stop them being chipped, cracked, or broken.
This is when you may first look at the options to repair your teeth, rather than those to replace damaged teeth which are to be extracted. One point we would make here is that, in many instances, a damaged tooth will not necessarily need to be extracted. To establish whether your tooth is staying or being removed, you must first visit your dentist, who will assess the extent of the damage and determine the most suitable treatment.
If they advise that a repair is possible then there are several ways these can be done.
Fillings: Where a small piece of a tooth has been chipped away, or if the tooth has small crack, then a filling might be in order to literally fill in what is missing. Fillings are more likely to be use for back teeth, such as your molars and premolars.
Bonding: Bonding fulfills a similar role to fillings in that they fill in where small pieces of a tooth are missing. They are more commonly used for your front teeth as bonding is made from a resin that can be coloured to match the colour of your teeth, and thus make it less noticeable when you smile
Crown: Where a larger piece of a tooth has broken off or been chipped away, then a crown might be the way to resolve this. Here a tooth-coloured acrylic is fitted over what remains of the tooth. This not only makes the tooth look complete, but it proves an additional level of protection.
Veneer: Also used when the damage to a tooth is significant, a veneer is placed on the front of the damaged tooth. This obviously hides the damage and gives the appearance that the tooth is whole.
Ultimately, if the damage is to such an extent that you dentist advise you that repairs would not be possible or suitable, then you now have another couple of choices to make. You could simply live with the damaged tooth provided it is not causing you any discomfort and is not noticeable, however, this has risks.
The main risk is that if enough of your tooth is missing, it will effectively create a gap between the two teeth either side. This means they will be working harder when you chew, and in time this can weaken them. Ideally, you should have the damaged tooth extracted and replaced. The best option, if you have the budget available, is dental implants which provide a long-lasting solution.