Missing Tooth/Teeth : Treatment Options
So, what are your options if you have missing teeth?
There are 4 different ways to go about solving this particular problem:
- Do nothing and live with the space
- Dental implants.
- Dental bridges.
With many state-of-the-art dental treatments and prevention options available in dentistry today, there are fewer reasons for having to extract (remove) teeth. When something does go wrong with a tooth, we try to do everything possible to restore the tooth to its original function. Removing a tooth is the last option because we know that removal may lead to severe and costly dental and cosmetic problems if the tooth is not replaced.
Losing a tooth can be a very traumatic experience and it’s very unfortunate when it does happen. Injury, accident, fracture, severe dental decay, and gum disease are the major reasons for having to remove a tooth. If teeth are lost due to injury or have to be removed, it is imperative that they be replaced to avoid cosmetic and dental problems in the future.
When a tooth is lost, the jaw bone that helped to support that tooth begins to atrophy, causing the teeth on either side to shift or tip into the open space of the lost tooth. Also, the tooth above or below the open space will start to move towards the open space because there is no opposing tooth to bite on. These movements may create problems such as decay, gum disease, excessive wear on certain teeth, and TMJ (jaw joint) problems. These problems and movements do not result immediately, but will eventually appear, compromising your chewing abilities, the health of your bite, and the beauty of your smile.
Options for replacement of missing teeth:
Implants – Are a great way to replace one or more missing teeth. They may also be great to support ill fitting dentures. A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically placed into the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth. An artificial tooth is placed on the implant, giving the appearance and feel of a natural tooth. Implants are very stable, durable, and are the most aesthetically pleasing tooth replacement option and usually the longest lasting.
Fixed bridges – This type of bridge is generally made of porcelain or composite material and is anchored (cemented) permanently to a natural teeth adjacent to the missing tooth site. The benefit of this type of bridge is that it is fixed (not removable) and it is very sturdy. The disadvantage is that in order to create a fixed appliance, two healthy, natural teeth will have to be crowned (capped) to hold the bridge in place.
Removable Partial Dentures – This type of bridge is a good solution for replacing one or more missing teeth They are usually made of tooth-colored, artificial teeth combined with metal clasps that hook onto adjacent natural teeth. Removable bridges are the most economical option for replacing missing teeth, but may be the least aesthetically pleasing. This is because the metal clasps on the appliances are often impossible to completely conceal.
Dentures – This type of tooth replacement is used when most or all of the natural teeth are missing in one dental arch. Dentures are removable artificial teeth that are made to closely resemble the patients’ original teeth.
If you are missing teeth, ask us if they need replacement and what options are available to you. Together we will select the best replacement option for your particular case. Prevention and early treatment is always less involved and less costly than delaying treatment and allowing a serious problem to develop.
Advantages of Dental Implants
Compared with Partial Dentures
Many patients prefer implants over partial dentures as implants are fixed in place and are not removed nightly. Implants can also be more esthetic, as they do not have hooks or clasps that can be visible when smiling.
Compared with Conventional Bridges
In situations where the the natural teeth (abutments) are completely healthy, shaving or reducing them to prepare for a bridge “damages” them unnecessarily. Furthermore, should any of the natural teeth/abutments be lost for any reason (eg decay or gum disease), the entire bridge is usually lost as well. In contrast, implants do not affect the adjacent abutments; they are placed only in the positions where teeth are missing, and do not rely upon the adjacent teeth.
In addition, bridges can generally only be placed where there are natural teeth/abutments on either side of a space (except for limited-use “cantilever bridges”). In contrast, an implant can still be placed even in situations where an abutment is missing.Which Option to Choose?
Ultimately, the option that is chosen to replace missing teeth depends on many factors including your concerns, finances, and goals for treatment. A frank discussion between yourself, your dentist, and with a dental specialist, will help to determine which treatment is the right one for you.