questionsanybody have experience or expertise regarding…

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I have unfortunately had lots of experience with dental problems. I have several implants and my front teeth are a bridge. Both are comfortable and feel like real teeth, just tougher and less sensitive. For a single tooth replacement, I would think you would want an implant rather than a bridge. I also have several gaps, as i have not been able to afford bridges for all the lost teeth. Let me tell you a couple of things about that. Gaps, even toward the back, will show more than you think they will. If you plan to fill the gap, sooner rather than later is best, as the surviving teeth will shift toward the empty space, and the gum will get tough and the hole will fill in. Also once you get used to the gap it may be very distracting and even kind of claustrophobic to gave a replacement put there later.

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Love your tags.

I know several people who have had implants and swear by them. My husband and father included. It's a long, drawn-out procedure, and a bit pricey, but once completed it seems to be like a real tooth with no concerns. My dad can bite into apples and corn on the cob without worry now. If you do opt to go this route, it is important to ask around and find someone with a good reputation for doing the procedure.

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If money isn't the deciding factor here, absolutely go with an implant. As with moondrake, I've been on both sides of the equation. When money WAS the deciding factor, i skipped it. Most recently, i opted for an implant on a different pull, and when i inquired about the old pull - it's doable, but with much greater discomfort (a lot of gum cutting) and longer heal up time for the same reason. I also apparently have some renegade bone regrowth... my jawbone started growing into the space leaving me with a nub up into the gumline, but it isn't a tooth. (something he wants me to have checked up on regularly, as future infections in that area of my mouth is now of a much greater concern)

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If you decide to leave the gap. They can make a spacer so the gap doesn't close if you want to do something later. If money is an issue.

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Chiclet?
Seriously I talk to my dentist about this stuff, they know cost, the benefits of one over the other, like; looks, how it will age over time, how long they will last, maintenance, maintenance cost, what customers seem to prefer after the procedure.
And if you have insurance (the dentist may know this too) how much will the insurance cover for what procedure.

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Can't speak to the bridge vs. gap vs. implant portion of this. As I was just informed by my dentist that I need some extensive/expensive work, I will share a couple of thoughts on paying for it:

1) 2014 is coming. If you have insurance, and if it is tied to the calendar year, then you may be able to split the costs across insurance years, to pick up more coverage. Mine has a $1500 yearly benefit, which covers a crown (50%) plus two cleanings. (It may make sense to purchase individual coverage. Worth checking.)

2) 2014 is coming. There may be some pre-tax options. My employer offers a Flexible Spending program, which lets me pay for things with pre-tax dollars. If that is not an option, think about establishing a HSA (Healthcare Spending Account). You will need to research, as I know little about them.

3) My dentist participates with CareCredit. The good news is that I got 6 months same as cash. If you don't pay up, however, you get slammed with interest charges.

Good luck!

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#5 is not a spot that should be left empty. Your occlusion will change for the worse and the bone lvl will shrink over time. At your age, an implant truly is your best option (it's almost always the best option). A bridge would needlessly stub the two perfectly good teeth on either side, and you're too young for a permanent flipper. Though if finances are a serious problem atm, a flipper is the very least you should do.

All the previous posts're excellent. Read 'em, think about it, then go ask your dentist questions (or us more!). Action #1 should be to find out (xrays) if there's enough room for the implant in that space--is the bone wide enough and is the sinus high enough for room for a full-size implant? Many offices have free consults (minus xrays) on this stuff because it's expensive and a big deal. And since it's a long process (3 mnths for extraciton site to heal, then implant, then 3-4 mnths for that to heal 'til crowning it), it should be much easier to set up payment plans.

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Oh, & further notes (all my personal opinion only!): if you decide to go the implant route, you would have to wait for the extraction site to completely heal up before getting the implant. There are really only 2 responsible ways to place implants: immediately upon pulling the tooth (too late for that here) or in solid, fully-healed bone. Your extr site is currently soft, mushy & healing into empty space. Putting an implant there now would be like placing a stake in muddy ground--who knows where & at what angle it'll end up once the ground solidifies? So you have plenty of time to do your research, ask questions, & shop around.

A flipper'd be great now b/c you'd be wearing that flipper 'til the crown is placed on the implant, at least 5-ish mnths from now. B/c you also need to give the implant time to fully seat in the bone, for the bone & gum to heal around it. Crowning the implant immediately would run the risk of damaged bone, gumline gaps, wonky occlusion, & bad contacts.

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I agree with everything said here regarding implants vs. bridges, and gap issues. If you happen to live in Atlanta, I can recommend a great oral surgeon.