Replacing Missing Teeth

Teeth affect your a person’s body. When teeth are healthy, patients are healthier too. A missing tooth can affect a person’s bite, speech and eating choices. As a person relies more on their remaining teeth, they increase the chance their teeth will wear out prematurely, be damaged, or lost. Headaches and/or jaw pain may also be experienced.

Who would want their appearance and health to deteriorate? That’s the natural consequence of missing teeth. The jaw literally melts away. Generally, people will lose 25% of their supporting jawbone structure within the first year after tooth loss. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news? Dental Implants act just like natural teeth. They safeguard and preserve bone structure, oral health and appearance. The patient’s dentist and the implant surgeon will provide different options so each patient can make the most informed decision concerning tooth replacement.

Tooth Replacement Options

Patients can select from a number of different options to replace their missing teeth. Solutions range from temporary to long-lasting solutions.
A good candidate is anyone missing one or more teeth, or who is unhappy with their dentures. Age is not a factor. However, smoking, diseases such as diabetes, and radiation therapy to the area, have been shown to lower the success rate of implant placement. X-rays of the patient’s jaw will be taken to evaluate whether they will accommodate implants. Detailed x-rays may also be required to determine if other tests or procedures are needed to place implants properly.

An example of a dental fixed bridge

Fixed Bridge

A fixed bridge is a connected set of replacement teeth. For support, it is cemented into position on top of the teeth adjacent to the empty space. The protective outer layer of these teeth is usually removed or ground down prior to attaching the bridge.

A sample of a removable retainer with a plastic tooth known as a flipper

Flipper

A fragile, temporary, and inexpensive solution is a removable plastic tooth with a plastic retainer, often called a “flipper”.

A depiction of a sturdy partial denture cast in metal and plastic

Metal Partial

A less fragile option is a removable partial denture cast in metal and plastic. It is held in place by wire clips. A removable partial denture can be removed and reinserted when required by the patient.

A representation of a full denture for the entire lower jaw

Denture

The most common solution, for people missing all teeth in one or both jaws, are complete dentures. Some people adapt well to dentures. Others find them uncomfortable, even intolerable, because of differences in jaw size and shape.

A visual of a permanent dental implant to replace missing teeth

Dental Implants

Dental implants are the most comfortable and permanent solution. They form a strong foundation for teeth and keep the jaw healthy and strong. Implants support individual replacement teeth or secure specialized dentures in place. Unlike bridges, no healthy teeth are damaged. Unlike most bridges, implants can last a lifetime. Implant-supported replacement teeth can be attractive, stable, and comfortable for almost any patient.

Why Dental Implants?

There are several reasons: A dental bridge can sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge the space of the missing tooth/teeth. Additionally, removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient. Furthermore dentures that slip can be uncomfortable. Some patients have also reported feelings of embarrassment associated with wearing dentures.