It is unfortunate when someone loses a tooth; however we now have several options to replace it. Listed below are five of the most common ways to replace a missing tooth.
Removable Partial Denture
It can be very embarrassing when missing front teeth. A removable partial denture, which is worn during the day, can replace one or many missing teeth. Sometimes a partial denture may need metal clasps to help it stay in the mouth. Unfortunately, these metal clasps may be visible when speaking or smiling. Another disadvantage of a removable partial denture is that they can move a little when speaking or eating, which can be uncomfortable. We recommend taking them out at night and soaking them in a cleaning solution. With a partial denture there is no need to file down any teeth, and this option is the most economical. A full denture can replace all missing teeth.
A temporary denture is a short term solution for a missing tooth. We call it a “flipper” because it flips in and out easily. This is used when the tooth will be restored in the future with a bridge or an implant, but we are waiting for the site to heal. These are much like a removable partial denture, but usually less sturdy, less bulky, and less expensive. We do not alter surrounding teeth when we make a flipper.
A bridge is an option when there are teeth on either side of the missing tooth. A bridge is a fixed solution that stays cemented in the mouth and does not come out. This method involves cutting down the teeth on either side of the missing tooth to be able to connect them together. We recommend floss threaders, which slide under the bridge, to keep it clean. The disadvantages for bridges are cutting down teeth that might be perfectly healthy, and sometimes bridges in the lower jaw do not last as long since the jaw flexes and the unbendable bridge can spring a leak on one side or the other that allows for decay or bacteria to seep in. Sometimes the teeth next to the gap need a filling or a crown and this method can kill two birds with one stone; filling the gap and fixing the adjacent tooth at the same time. A bridge can replace one or two missing teeth easily, and sometimes more if there is enough support.
An implant is a great way to replace a missing tooth. This solution feels and acts the most like a natural tooth when chewing, brushing or smiling. The implant replaces the actual root of the missing tooth and heals in the bone for several months. We then place an abutment, to which a crown will be cemented. A major advantage is no need to alter any other teeth when placing an implant. An implant is a great solution for a single missing tooth, and even more implants can replace many missing teeth. When smiling or talking there is no way to tell the difference between an implant and a natural tooth.
There is always the option to do nothing. When a tooth is removed, the bone melts away and the other teeth in the area will shift to fill the gap. This can sometimes create a difficult place to clean and lead to other problems like bone loss or decay around the existing teeth.