If you’ve lost a tooth, you have multiple options available for tooth replacement. In most cases, it’s best to replace a missing tooth as soon as possible. A missing tooth not only changes the appearance of your smile, it can cause dental problems if not corrected.
What happens if you don’t replace a missing tooth?
Losing even just one tooth can have a significant impact on your oral health and self confidence. Your remaining teeth can slowly shift into the empty space created by the missing tooth, resulting in gaps and misaligned teeth. This can affect your ability to chew food and can also affect your speech. In some cases, the jawbone around the empty tooth socket can disintegrate, which can weaken the jaw and lead to further tooth loss.
Fortunately, there are a number of affordable options available for replacing a missing tooth or multiple teeth. The best option for you may depend on several factors, including the number of teeth lost, your individual budget, and the location of the missing tooth or teeth.
Can a single tooth be replaced?
A single tooth can be replaced several different ways. Single tooth replacement methods are typically cheaper, easier to manage, and less invasive than replacement options for multiple teeth. The most popular single tooth replacement options are:
A dental implant looks and functions like a real tooth. An implant consists of a metal post, which is set into the jaw and replaces the root of the missing tooth, and a crown that is attached to the top of the post. The crown can be fashioned to fit into the space left by the missing tooth and blend seamlessly with the rest of your teeth.
Dental implants are often the most expensive option for tooth replacement, but don’t let that stop you from asking your dentist if an implant is right for you. If you have dental insurance, some or all of the implant cost may be covered. If your missing tooth is the result of an accident, replacement could also be covered by your medical insurance. The oral surgeon’s office should be able to work with you to help you get the most out of your insurance coverage.
Younger patients can especially benefit from dental implants, as the post will help preserve the jaw bone and prevent deterioration as they age, and they require less maintenance over the years.
Using braces to “fill” a missing tooth is another option for permanently altering your smile. Your dentist can attach braces that will work to shift your teeth together to fill in the gap, rather than filling the space with an implant or denture.
Tooth-supported fixed bridge
The most common single tooth replacement alternative to implants is the tooth-supported bridge. For this procedure, the teeth adjacent to the gap are ground down so they can support the bridge. Since the supported bridge is not implanted into the bone, it requires on-going maintenance to ensure proper function.
Removable partial dentures
Partial dentures are customized to fit your specific affected area. The dentures aren’t as flexible and natural as tooth-supported bridges, but they are generally less expensive and require no grinding down of otherwise healthy adjacent teeth.
A bonded bridge is generally chosen for patients who are missing front teeth that don’t endure the regular biting and usage that back teeth experience. The bridge has attachments on either side, which are placed on the adjacent healthy teeth. There is no grinding or altering of the healthy teeth to apply these attachments, but the resin-bonded bridge is less sturdy than tooth-supported bridges.
Multiple teeth replacement options
Many options are available for the replacement of multiple teeth as well. The best option for you may depend on factors such as how many teeth need to be replaced, where they are located, and whether they are next to each other.
Implants and implant-supported bridges
Individual dental implants can be used to replace multiple missing teeth. If many teeth are missing, the cost of several implants can start to become quite high, so some patients may prefer to go with an implant-supported bridge. In this case, two or more implants are placed at regular intervals in the jaw. These implants are then used to support a custom-made bridge. Implant-supported bridges offer several benefits: the placement of the implants helps preserve the jaw bone, and the implants provide secure support for the bridge, which can make the bridge more comfortable and can make chewing easier.
Removable partial denture
These dentures are used to fix aesthetic or functional issues that arise when multiple teeth are missing. Partial dentures may be necessary when there aren’t enough healthy and supportive teeth adjacent to the gaps. The partial dentures are preferred by many patients because they can be removed whenever necessary.
Removable complete denture
This appliance rests on top of the gums where the teeth once were. Complete dentures are often recommended for patients who have lost all of their teeth. In some cases, a few remaining teeth may need to be extracted to make space for the dentures. Complete dentures serve both aesthetic and functional needs of patients and can be removed for easy cleaning, or if your gums become sore from extended use.
Are you looking for replacement options for missing teeth? Consider finding a dentist who uses the DentalVibe Comfort Injection System. Replacing a tooth often requires multiple dental appointments, and you’ll want to work with someone who makes you feel comfortable every step of the way. DentalVibe technology helps dentists go above and beyond in terms of total patient care. Visit our directory to find a DentalVibe certified pain-free dentist near you!