Missing teeth are more than just a cosmetic concern. Gaps in your smile can make simple daily necessities, such as speaking and chewing, a daunting task. Missing teeth also affects the bone density of the jaws, causes other teeth to shift, and can even make the face appear older. Although it is not currently possible to grow new teeth, dental restorations or appliances can fill the gaps and restore oral function.
Dental Implants: Dentists surgically place metal or porcelain posts where the tooth’s root used to be. These posts act similarly to natural tooth roots by keeping the replacement tooth stable and securely in place. The replacement tooth is masterly crafted to match the color and size of your natural teeth. Dental implants feel and function just like a natural tooth!
Dental implants can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, and even an entire smile! Dentures can be kept securely in place with dental implants. To receive an implant, the patient needs to be in good overall health, have enough bone to support an implant, and be ready to commit to an excellent oral hygiene routine. Your dentist will be able to determine if dental implants are right for you!
Benefits of Dental Implants:
- Functions very similarly to a natural tooth
- Nearby teeth are not involved in placing implants
- Lasts for decades
- Prevents additional bone loss to the jawbone
Fixed Bridges: A bridge can replace one or several missing teeth. The teeth on either side of the gap are crowned and then bonded or cemented to the bridge. Crowns allow the natural teeth to provide optimal support for the bridge. Your dentists can craft porcelain and ceramic bridges to match the color of your natural teeth. Gold and alloys are other common materials used to make bridges.
Dentists are the only ones who can remove fixed bridges, so cleaning a bridge takes slightly more effort than cleaning natural teeth. To maintain a healthy mouth, patients with bridges must clean underneath the bridge every time they brush their teeth. Floss threaders, interdental brushes, and water flossers make cleaning under the bridge easy.
Benefits of Fixed Bridges:
- Generally functions and feels like a natural tooth
- Can blend in with your natural teeth
- Less expensive than dental implants
Removable Partial Dentures: Partial dentures can replace several missing teeth. Many patients prefer partial dentures because they are removable for easy cleaning and repairs. Partial dentures typically consist of a metal framework covered by a plastic base that matches the color of your gums. Attached to this base are fixed teeth that blend in perfectly with your smile. Removable partial dentures also often have some form of a clasp that attaches to your natural teeth.
Partial dentures may feel tight or uncomfortable when you first start using them, but most patients get used to them within a few weeks. You will be able to eat essentially all foods, including ones that were difficult to chew with missing teeth. Speaking also may become easier with a partial denture.
Benefits of Removable Partial Dentures:
- Generally less expensive than implants and bridges
- Removable to allow easy cleaning
- Typically easier to repair than fixed bridges
One type of tooth replacement does not work for every patient! Many factors go into choosing a tooth replacement, such as budget, bone density, and stability of surrounding teeth. Schedule a consultation for your dentist to walk you through all treatment options and help you determine which one works best for your smile.