Fix Missing Teeth

Patients who have a missing tooth or have a tooth that needs to be extracted have a few options available to them to replace the tooth and restore their smile. Common treatment options include dental bridges and dental implants, but patients can also get a partial denture for one or even a few missing teeth. Every case is different and not everyone is an ideal candidate for each type of restoration, but your dentist can help determine which treatment option is best for you.

Partial Denture

A partial denture is a fake tooth or set of teeth that use metal or acrylic clasps hook onto neighboring teeth to hold a fake tooth in position. A partial denture can be removed by the patient for cleaning and sleeping. They can be used to replace one missing tooth or a few missing teeth in one area of the mouth.

Dental Bridge

A dental bridge works just like a partial denture but is permanently cemented in place whereas a partial can be removed by the patient. A bridge spans the gap from one healthy tooth to another with a fake tooth, called a pontic, in between dental crowns. The crowns fit over neighboring teeth to restore the area. A dental bridge cannot be removed by the patient since it is cemented in place and can be used to replace one or multiple missing teeth in one area of the mouth.

Another type of dental bridge is called a Maryland bridge. Instead of using crowns on healthy teeth, the pontic is held in place with metal attachments that are affixed to the back of the neighboring teeth. This may sound like a partial but a Maryland bridge cannot be removed. One benefit of a Maryland bridge is that it does not negatively impact healthy neighboring teeth but the drawback is, a Maryland bridge is not as durable as a traditional bridge so they are not ideal for front teeth.

Dental Implant

Dental implants are hands down the best way to restore one or more missing teeth. They are incredibly stable and natural looking and actually benefit the health of your bone structure. The roots of our teeth help stimulate bone regeneration in the jaw which helps hold teeth in place. Dental implants are basically a prosthetic root and work the exact same way to encourage bone growth. Dental bridges and partial dentures sit above the gum line and can actually exacerbate bone deterioration since they do not have any way to help stimulate bone regeneration.

A dental implant is a titanium post that an oral surgeon surgically places directly into the jaw bone. The implant then heals and integrates with the bone structure for about six months before the implant crown is placed.

Because a dental implant helps ensure bone health, an implant can last a lifetime whereas a bridge or partial denture will need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years as your bone structure changes, causing your bridge or partial denture to become ill-fitting.

While it is not advisable, patients always have the option of not replacing a missing tooth at all. When a space is left between teeth, healthy neighboring teeth can begin to shift in an effort to close the space. This can cause healthy teeth to become loose and actually cause more damage to the area, possibly additional lost teeth.

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