Missing teeth can cause a lot of issues, from difficulty chewing food to feeling self-conscious about your smile. The good news is that there are solutions. Thanks to advances in modern dentistry, you have several options to consider if you need to replace some of your teeth. Let’s take a look at the three most popular options.
Removable dentures are the oldest solution for missing teeth. In fact, they used to be the only solution dentists could offer. Dentures are simply artificial teeth connected to a gum-colored base. They can be made from a variety of materials, including acrylic, porcelain, or metal. Removable dentures can be either complete or partial. Complete dentures are used to replace all of the teeth in your upper or lower jaw, while partial dentures are used to replace a smaller number of missing teeth.
If you choose removable dentures to replace your missing teeth, you’ll need to see a dentist to be fitted for a set. This usually requires a series of appointments so your dentist can make impressions of your teeth and jaw, create a model for your new dentures, have your dentures made, then conduct a final fitting and make adjustments as needed.
- Pros: Removable dentures can be a more affordable solution for missing teeth. They do not require invasive surgery and are relatively easy to adjust if you start having issues with the way they fit. High-quality dentures should fit securely and have a natural appearance.
- Cons: New dentures can take some time to get used to and may feel a little loose or awkward at first. You may also need to continue seeing your dentist over time to readjust the fit. In most cases, dentures need to be removed every night to maintain healthy gums.
A dental bridge can be a good solution for missing teeth if you only need to replace one or a few teeth. It consists of a false tooth or a row of false teeth that is used to bridge the gap in your smile. These false teeth are usually made of ceramic or porcelain, but they can also be made of metals like gold.
If you choose to get a dental bridge, your dentist will create crowns for the two healthy teeth on either side of the bridge, known as the abutment teeth. These crowns will be placed over the abutment teeth and permanently set in place. The bridge will then be bonded to these crowns to make sure it stays in place while you eat, drink and smile. Like dentures, getting a dental bridge requires a series of appointments so your dentist can take measurements and make sure your dental bridge fits into your mouth comfortably and looks natural against the rest of your teeth.
- Pros: Dental bridges are a long-lasting solution to missing teeth that you won’t need to keep removing and putting back in. They do not require any surgery, and some patients may find them more affordable than dental implants.
- Cons: Dental bridges may need to be replaced within five to fifteen years due to wear and tear, including the strain they can place on the abutment teeth. Additionally, they may not be an option if you do not have two healthy teeth that can be used as abutment teeth.
Dental implants are an increasingly popular way to replace missing teeth. A dental implant consists of three parts:
- The root, a titanium post surgically implanted in your jaw to replace the roots of your missing teeth
- The abutment, which is placed on top of the root and used to secure the crown in place
- The crown, or replacement tooth, which is usually made of ceramic or porcelain
Modern dental implants were developed in the 1970s, making them a relatively new way to replace missing teeth. Over the years, researchers have developed new materials and surgical procedures to improve them. One of the newest materials is Zirconia, a kind of ceramic used to make crowns. Zirconia is stain-resistant, long-lasting and metal-free.
Like other treatments for missing teeth, dental implants usually require a series of visits to your dentist’s office. Your dentist will create impressions of your jaws and teeth, surgically implant the titanium root, then secure the crown in place.
- Pros: Dental implants are a permanent way to replace missing teeth. High-quality dental implants will blend in with the rest of your teeth, creating a natural smile. Once your implants are in place, they will likely not need to be adjusted again.
- Cons: Dental implants do require surgery, which means some patients may not be good candidates for them. They are also more expensive than other missing teeth solutions, although many patients consider them worth the investment.
How to Choose a Missing Teeth Solution
Now that you know your options for replacing missing teeth, how do you pick the best one for you? The truth is that the answer can vary, depending on your circumstances and personal preferences. If missing teeth are making it difficult for you to speak, eat or smile, you may want to make a dental appointment to discuss all of your options and decide on a solution.
LifeSmiles by Dr. Randy Mitchmore