So you have a missing tooth you want to replace and you want to know what your options are? Well, you are in the right place as we have written this blog post specifically for you. If you have a missing tooth you principally have four options:
- Do nothing and leave the gap.
- A denture.
- A dental bridge.
- A dental implant.
Let’s look at each of these in turn to see which of them could be right for you.
NOT replacing missing teeth and leaving a gap.
Apart from the obvious cosmetic disadvantages to leaving a gap there are also some health disadvantages. Did you know that your teeth are in a fine balance keeping them in exactly the right position? Teeth are prevented from over erupting and drifting backwards and forwards due to the pressure applied to them by the adjacent and opposing teeth. When a tooth is missing from one jaw, a tooth on the opposing jaw then misses out on that opposing force every time you bite. What can happen is that the opposing tooth can over erupt and drift down, or up, into the gap.
Teeth either side of the space can also drift into the gap. This can make replacing missing tooth far more difficult in future and also creates bite problems which could lead to jaw joint issues and headaches in the future.
Dentures have been around for centuries and are a common way to replace missing teeth. They can usually be made to look highly aesthetic so that nobody else would know that you are wearing one. One of the problems with dentures is that there are often clips, known as clasps which fit around your adjacent teeth to hold the denture in place. These clasps are often made of metal and are therefore less aesthetic and can be a little unsightly.
If you are wearing dentures then you need to ensure that you continue to visit your dentist regularly. The shape of your denture fits your gum exactly, but your gum will change shape over time as you naturally age. Your denture won’t! This change in shape of your gum means that the denture has more pressure put on it, and if your denture is made of plastic, which most are, it can be likely to fracture. Visiting your dentist regularly means he or she can check the fit of your denture and suggest a reline if appropriate.
One of the biggest advantages of dentures is the cost, they tend to be the cheapest way to replace missing teeth.
Replacing a missing tooth with a dental bridge.
A dental bridge is also a common way to replace missing teeth and has been used widely in dentistry for many years now. Dental bridges can be highly aesthetic and look amazing when they are fitted, they also come with a few disadvantages though.
A dental bridge requires the preparation of the teeth either side of the missing one. The diagram shows how the adjacent teeth need to be trimmed down into his stumps to accept the support for the new tooth. If the adjacent teeth to the missing one are otherwise healthy this seems a shame to destroy healthy teeth!
Another potential problem with a dental bridge is that the gum area where the tooth has been removed will change shape over time. This is because the natural bone moves as we get older, as it moves the gum shrinks with it.
This could mean that the dental bridge does not meet the gum quite so nicely as time goes on, this could result in you needing to replace your dental bridge with a new one.
Using a dental implant to replace missing teeth.
The final option in our list for replacing missing teeth is to consider a dental implant. Anatomically a dental implant is designed to replicate the natural root and crown of your tooth, however it is never as good as your natural tooth so you should always do everything you possibly can to keep your natural teeth for as long as possible!
A dental implant is normally placed under local anaesthetic however you can ask us for dental sedation if you feel particularly anxious or nervous, some dentists also offer hypnosis as a way to help you relax at the dental practice.
Dental implants are made from medical grade titanium which has the amazing property of the body not recognising it as a foreign object. This means the dental implant actually integrates with the bone of your jaw becoming one single unit. On top of the dental implant is a custom made crown which is designed to look exactly like your surrounding teeth.
One of the biggest advantages of the dental implant is the fact that it supports the surrounding bone. If you have read this article from the beginning you will have seen a common theme is bone loss. This happens as the bone collapses in to fill the void where the tooth has been taken out. Unfortunately this always happens, unless you have a dental implant.
A dental implant is able to support the surrounding bone by filling in the space where your natural tooth was, this prevents the bone collapsing in and consequently prevents gum resorption. This means dental implants can often be the most aesthetic solution as they maintain the natural shape of your gum line as you smile.
The cost of dental implants can be prohibitive for some people, however a good dentist will always offer you various payment options and solutions which make the treatment more affordable. We strongly urge you to consider dental implants wherever possible, they are not always the most appropriate solution, but most often they are the best way to replace missing teeth and can help you smile again with confidence… Not to mention eat again too!
If you live in the Bristol, Portishead or Cleveland areas then Evolve Dentistry is able to offer you dental implants, dentures, dental bridges and dental health advice to help you replace your missing teeth.