Options For Replacing A Missing Tooth
There are many reasons you may be missing a tooth. One of the most common is you had to have one or more teeth pulled due to decay. Another common, but more painful, reason is you lost teeth in an accident or while playing sports. It could also be that certain teeth never grew in. Whatever the reason, you find yourself with a gap-toothed smile.
Leaving the Gap
Some people choose to do nothing about their missing teeth, thus leaving the gap in place. This is especially true when only one tooth is missing and/or the gap is in an inconspicuous spot. However, as the Academy of Osseointegration points out, this can result in bone loss or tooth drifting. When teeth are missing, a process called resorption usually occurs, meaning the bone that supported the teeth shrinks. Additionally, the adjoining teeth may lean into the gap, thus affecting jaw alignment. Therefore, leaving the gap is rarely the best option.
One option for replacing the missing teeth is a removable partial denture. This typically consists of a device that fits flat to the roof of your mouth affixed with teeth to fill the gap. This is probably the least invasive method for replacing teeth. However, these partial dentures often slip while you're chewing or even talking, thus providing less stability than more permanent options.
Another version of the partial denture for replacing multiple teeth consists of the teeth affixed to a gum cap and held in place with wire. This is one of the less expensive options, and there is no damage to neighboring teeth. However, these dentures aren't always comfortable.
A more common option for replacing a single missing tooth is getting fitted for a bridge. Dentists have two options available – a tooth-supported fixed bridge, and a resin-bonded bridge. For a tooth-supported fixed bridge, dentists must grind down the neighboring teeth to cap them and support the false tooth. With resin bonding, the dentist uses resin to attach wings to the adjacent teeth, making this the less invasive option. Both provides normal function and aesthetics, but the bone beneath the false teeth may still deteriorate over time.
Dental implants are becoming more common for replacing missing teeth. In this procedure, dentists implant a tooth root replacement to which a crown is attached. They implant this directly into the bone. This is the most expensive option, and it requires minor surgery. However, the result is the sturdiest tooth replacement, and the root replacer even stimulates bone regeneration. Likewise, the adjacent teeth aren't affected by the procedure. Finally, dental implants are the most natural looking form of tooth replacement.
Whether you choose a bridge, denture or implant, talk to your dentist about replacing any missing teeth. Contact a clinic like Picone Dental - Vincent J Picone DDS for more information.