Options for Replacing Missing Teeth

Most of us realize how important our teeth are, not only because of their effect on oral hygiene and general health, but also because of aesthetic considerations. Missing teeth not only look unpleasant but can also cause movement of other teeth and possibly deterioration of the underlying bone structure. Teeth help us to smile, speak and chew, and missing teeth will affect the way all of these operations are performed.

Let’s Consider the Options to replace Missing Teeth

Dental Bridges & Crowns

There are basically three options to replace missing teeth.

Implants

  • An implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed in the jawbone, and allowed to heal. After healing, the root is exposed again, and a post is attached to the root. The artificial crown is then attached to the post.
  • The root and post are made from a biocompatible metal, and the procedure is relatively easy to perform.
  • The bone surrounding the implant bonds with the artificial root to create an extremely strong fixture.

Bridges

  • Bridges span the gap where one or more teeth are missing.
  • The replacement tooth or teeth are attached to the teeth adjacent to the gap. These adjacent teeth are called abutments and are used to anchor the replacement teeth.
  • Acrylic or ceramic can be used for the replacement teeth.

Dentures

  • Dentures are appliances that are usually made from an acrylic polymer and are totally removable.
  • They can be used to replace one tooth or a complete set of teeth and everything in between.
  • The main difference between dentures, and implants and bridges, is that dentures are removable at will; whereas implants and bridges are permanently fixed in the mouth.

What are the disadvantages of each individual treatment?

Implants

  • A certain degree of surgery is required.
  • Implants are generally the most expensive of the replacement procedures.
  • The entire process can take a long time.

Bridges

  • Bridge work also takes a long time. Once a tooth is extracted, the bone must heal before a permanent bridge can be put in.
  • A bridge is not permanent. Fifteen years is the maximum life expectancy for a good quality bridge.
  • Reshaping of adjacent teeth is required, to fit the bridge.
  • Bridges may become unstable due to bone and gum shrinkage.

Dentures

  • The mouth continues to change, and ill-fitting dentures can injure the gums.
  • The life expectancy of high quality dentures is considerably shorter than bridges, and they will probably last eight years at most.
  • Smiling, talking and eating invariably cause the denture to move, and can cause considerable embarrassment.
  • Dentures can get lost, they can get broken and they are often uncomfortable; especially when eating hard foodstuffs, like fresh fruit and vegetables.

No one can deny the embarrassment of missing teeth, especially when you deal with the public for your livelihood. Luckily there are quite a few options for replacing missing teeth. They range from the relatively inexpensive, but not very permanent dentures; to very expensive but permanent implants, that look, feel and act like real teeth, for considerably longer. Your cosmetic dentist will be able to advise you on the best options to suit your pocket.

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