If you're missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your looks and overall health. Your teeth are designed to work together to help you chew, speak and smile. When teeth are missing it can be difficult to do these things. Even the loss of a back tooth may cause your teeth to shift and your face to look older. Fortunately, missing teeth can be replaced.
Inside are three options for replacement. Not all options are right for everyone but we will help you decide which option is best for you.
You may choose implants to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or to support a full denture. An implant is a "post" that is surgically placed in the jaw, where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. They are made of Titanium (a strong, lightweight metal) and other materials that are accepted by the human body. Most patients find implants a great replacement solution. However, implants are not an option for everyone. Because they require surgery, patients should be in good health. Patients also must have adequate bone to support the implant or have a procedure to "build up" the area of placement. You should also be ready to commit to a daily oral care routine and regular dental visits.
Some chronic illnesses, as well as tobacco use, may slow the healing process. We can help you decide if implant treatment is right for you.
Advantages of an Implant:
- Most similar to natural tooth
- May help prevent bone loss
- Does not affect other teeth
- Clean like your natural teeth
- May take longer due to healing time
- Requires surgery
Another tooth replacement option is a fixed bridge. This is a restoration that fills the space where one or more teeth have been lost. A fixed bridge is bonded/
cemented into place and only a dentist can remove it. Placing a bridge usually takes two visits to the office. On the first visit, we will prepare the teeth on either side of the space, take an impression and place a temporary bridge to protect the prepared teeth. The impression will be used to fabricate your bridge. In about two weeks you come back and we will remove the temporary bridge and cement your permanent bridge.
Advantages of a Fixed Bridge:
- Look, feel and function like natural teeth
- Does not come out
- Does affect the teeth on either side of the space
- Requires extra effort to clean under the bridge
Removable Partial Denture
As the name implies, a removable partial denture can easily be taken out of the mouth. Partial dentures usually have replacement teeth fixed to "gum" colored acrylic that may cover a metal framework. Partial dentures will usually have some form of clasp that grips your natural teeth for stability. It takes practice to get used to a removable partial denture. It may feel odd and/or tight for the first few days. In time you will get used to it. However, it does take commitment and perseverance. You will need to return to the office several times for adjustments as we "fine tune" the fit of your new partial.
Advantages of a Removable Partial Denture:
- Removable for easy cleaning
- May replace multiple teeth
- Less stable than other choices
- May cause additional bone and tooth loss