People, young and old, lose teeth for a wide range of reasons – accidents, injury, decay, fracture, or perhaps congenitally (the tooth simply never developed). Missing teeth affect self-esteem, speech, diet and appearance. They can influence first impressions, and potential promotions/advancement.
Ideally, teeth should be replaced as soon as possible to avoid further complications – adjacent teeth drifting into the space and causing spaces between other teeth, bone loss, over-eruption of opposing teeth, facial collapse, difficulty chewing, food wedging between the teeth, slurring or spitting during speech – missing teeth can be a real problem. There are a number of different ways to replace missing teeth, with removable appliances or with fixed bridges or implants.
A partial, or partial denture, is a removable appliance generally made of plastic and metal used to replace the missing teeth. It will generally have clasps that will fit around remaining teeth to hold it in place. It can be removed to brush your teeth, and clean the appliance and it is recommended you remove it at night so that the tissue underneath can rest.
Partials work best when only a few teeth are missing, or as a temporary solution while you are preparing for a more fixed, long term solution like a bridge or implant.
A denture replaces all of the teeth in an arch – all the upper or all the lower teeth, and is sometimes referred to as ‘false teeth’ or a ‘plate’. It is removable and is generally made of a plastic resin material. Over time the jaw bone will reshape and the denture may have to be periodically relined. They can be removed for cleaning, and should also be removed at night.
A bridge is a fixed alternative to replace missing teeth. It consists of a false tooth/teeth connected to the remaining teeth on either side of the space. The adjacent teeth are prepared for crowns, an impression is taken and the teeth temporized. Two weeks later the permanent bridge will be back from the lab and your new bridge will be permanently cemented. It will now function like normal teeth.
You will need to exercise special care cleaning around the bridge as the teeth are connected and you cannot floss between them. Instead, we will show you how to thread floss under the bridge to ensure food is not getting caught and causing irritation or odor.
Dental implants are the ideal way to replace missing teeth. They can be used for individual teeth, to support a bridge, or to secure a partial or denture. There are multiple sizes and types. After an examination of your teeth and jaw, our dentists will determine what would work best for your specific situation.
An implant is essentially a small titanium post that is placed in the jaw bone to act as the root for the missing tooth. This can be placed with local ‘freezing’(anesthetic). The bone in your jaw will actually grow into the implant post and integrate it with your jaw. After it has integrated, a period of three months or more, we will then place a crown on top of the implant to replace the missing tooth. There are instances where we immediately place the crown when we place the implant. Every situation is different, it depends on the quality of the bone, the span of the space and the biting forces in that area. We will discuss the specific procedures for your situation during the treatment planning phase.
Implants are more expensive than the other options, but they do provide the most stable, and easy to clean option. They are also ideal when the teeth adjacent to the space have no, or small fillings, and wouldn’t otherwise require crowns.