What Are My Options if I Have Missing Teeth?
Losing a tooth can be traumatic especially when it leaves you feeling awkward every time you want to smile! Genetic conditions, gum disease, decaying teeth or a knocked-out tooth leave you with a less-than-ideal “gappy smile” but there are ways of filling in those missing gaps.
Various dental treatments make it possible for you to improve your appearance when dealing with a broken or missing tooth. Keep reading to find out what your top options are for replacing missing teeth so you can start smiling with confidence again!
3 Dental Treatments for Replacing Missing Teeth
Having a damaged tooth pulled out or losing one because of an underlying cause such as gum disease could knock your self-confidence. Fortunately, there are different dental treatments that can replace a missing or broken tooth, giving you back your sparkling smile and self-esteem. The options available include dental implants, crowns and bridges and removable or permanent dentures.
These procedures can be used to replace one or more missing teeth but speaking to your dentist will help you decide which one is best for your specific condition. Not all replacement procedures are permanent and some are only suitable for repairing damaged or broken teeth and not for filling in a gap.
1. Dental Implants
When looking for the best solution for replacing one or more missing teeth, dental implants could be the treatment you’re looking for. However, they’re not suitable for everyone and your dentist will do an assessment before deciding if you’re a candidate for this tooth replacement procedure. Ideally, you should be in good health with a healthy mouth and strong bone structure.
This surgical procedure is undertaken in dental rooms and requires placing a titanium post or frame into the bone of your upper or lower jaw.
Teeth are mounted into this post or frame which acts as a permanent base for holding them firmly in place. The permanent base basically becomes the root for your replacement tooth or teeth. Dental implants are customised according to your mouth and the teeth are designed by laboratory technicians to resemble the natural tooth.
Dental implants restore proper functioning of your teeth, allowing you to eat and talk comfortably. They can be used as a single tooth replacement, filling in larger gaps and when you have no teeth left. Furthermore, dental implants put a halt to grimacing, bringing back your perfect smile without the gaps!
Pros of Dental Implants
Here are some advantages of having dental implants:
- Artificial replacements resemble real teeth
- Other teeth in the mouth stay intact
- They support a full jaw of teeth or a single tooth
- Implants replace the need for wearing removable dentures
Cons of Dental Implants
While there are many advantages to having this procedure done, there are some disadvantages you need to be aware of before making a final decision:
- Surgery is necessary for placing the titanium post or frame
- The replacement tooth is only attached when implant fully heals
- Healing from the surgery could take several months
2. Dental Crowns and Bridges
Dental crowns are best suited for replacing a partially missing tooth or covering an implant. These caps restore shape and protect damaged teeth while giving you an aesthetically-pleasing smile. They also restore the tooth shape for better function. They’re made from different materials such as ceramics, resin, porcelain or metals. They’re cemented onto the existing broken or damaged tooth or dental implant.
However, when wanting to replace missing teeth, dental fixed bridges are an alternative to implants. They can be used to replace one missing tooth or more teeth in the same area of the mouth. They bridge the gap between existing teeth, using them to hold the artificial tooth in place once it’s bonded in place with dental cement. Dental fixed bridges restore your smile, bite and overall oral health.
Pros of Dental Crowns and Bridges
While crowns work well for covering damaged or broken teeth, fixed dental bridges are an option for replacing missing teeth. Here are some other advantages that may sway you in picking this solution:
- A non-surgical procedure
- Fittings take place in the dental surgery
- There’s limited or zero healing time
- They’re cheaper than dental implants
- Dental bridges are durable and can last between 7 to 10 years depending on oral hygiene practices
Cons of Dental Crowns and Bridges
While dental crowns and fixed bridges are a permanent solution, they involve removing healthy teeth and put more pressure on the supporting tooth. Here are some other disadvantages:
- Dental crowns only work for partially missing or damaged teeth
- Dental bridges sit on top of the gum and don’t prevent bone loss in the jaw
- Bridges don’t last as long as dental implants
- Fixed dental bridges damage existing healthy teeth if not fitted properly
When exploring dental bridges, an option to consider is Maryland bridges. This differs from regular bridges in that the procedure doesn’t require reshaping of adjacent teeth or crown placement. The metal wings are attached using a strong adhesive, leaving surrounding teeth undisturbed. Maryland bridges are a conservative alternative to other types of fixed bridges and are best for abutment teeth in the front of the mouth.
3. Removable Dentures
If you’re missing a mouthful of teeth, your dentist may recommend removable dentures. These are long-lasting options customised specifically for your mouth, giving you a natural look. Dentures can be fitted for a single missing tooth too.
Depending on your situation, your dentist may recommend partial or complete removable dentures. Dentures are made up of artificial teeth placed onto a pink base resembling your gum line. The removable base is held in place by existing natural teeth. Some do come with a clasp to secure the dentures to existing teeth.
Removable dentures are made from three types of materials:
- Acrylic: A type of plastic material that’s cost-effective and pliable. Acrylic dentures should be replaced every five years.
- Cobalt chrome: This material combination prevents corrosion of the dentures. It’s lightweight but durable and are comfortable to wear. This type of denture can last anywhere between five to 10 years.
- Flexible: Made from nylon or other types of thermoplastics, this material is used for partial dentures. While more expensive than traditional dentures, they can last you a lifetime which makes them an investment.
Pros of Removable and Permanent Dentures
Removable dentures are a non-invasive dental treatment. But what other advantages do dentures offer you?
- Removable dentures are less expensive than dental implants
- They give you a natural look and feel in the mouth
- Dentures result in less infections as long as proper oral hygiene is practiced
- They improve bite and speech
Cons of Removable and Permanent Dentures
What are the disadvantages of dentures compared to the other options discussed in this article?
- Removable dentures need to be removed before being cleaned daily
- You can’t sleep with removable dentures in place
Replacing missing teeth not only builds your confidence and self-esteem with a beautiful smile but you’ll be able to eat and talk better too! Dental replacements minimise the risk of further tooth decay, gum disease or infection as long as good oral hygiene is practiced. Some options are permanent while others require replacement after a period of time. Which ones should you consider?
Dental implants are costly but offer a long-term solution to missing teeth while permanent dentures are a cheaper alternative worth considering. Removable dentures are a cost-effective solution with a long lifespan while fixed dental bridges and crowns are great for filling in the gaps between existing teeth. Give our team at Shine Dental Care a call and we’ll help you find the best solution for your missing teeth!