What Are My Alternatives For Replacing Missing Teeth?
Should you replace missing teeth? The missing tooth that spoils your healthy smile certainly gets your attention, but those unseen missing teeth – those in the back of your mouth – can also cause a variety of problems. So when patients ask me whether they should replace missing teeth I usually say yes. The only exception? The last molars.
Why Should I Replace Missing Teeth?
Your teeth are so valuable that if even a few are missing you may experience serious health and cosmetic problems. When teeth are lost, cosmetic and dental problems develop. Without teeth and their healthy roots, the jaw bone will eventually deteriorate. Adjacent teeth will then shift, making chewing more difficult. Moreover, an altered bite can cause changes in facial features leading to premature aging. Replacing a missing front tooth is especially important for maintaining a healthy appearance.
What Are My Choices for Replacement?
Fortunately, modern dental technology now makes it possible for nearly all missing teeth – seen and unseen – to be replaced. Here are four options for replacing missing teeth. Each one offers a solution to a specific problem.
- Removable Bridges – (removable partial dentures) are made of porcelain or composite material and metal clasps that allow the teeth to hook onto neighboring teeth. Removable bridges are the most economical option for replacing missing teeth but the metal clasps make them the least aesthetically pleasing option.
- Fixed Bridges (fixed partial dentures) are made of porcelain or composite material and are attached to neighboring teeth and cemented in place. Good for replacing one or more teeth, it is sturdy and is more comfortable and longer lasting than a removable bridge.
- Dentures (complete dentures) are removable prostheses that replace all of the teeth in a dental arch (upper and/or lower). It is used when all of the natural teeth are missing and is an economical method of replacing all the teeth. The overdenture is a type of complete denture that fits over any remaining teeth or implants.
- Dental implants are great for replacing one or more missing teeth. A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically placed into the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth. An artificial tooth is placed on the implant, giving the appearance and feel of a natural tooth. Implants are very stable, durable, and are the most aesthetically pleasing tooth replacement option.
Note: If you are considering dental implants, discuss all your options with your dentist. Implant treatment is complex and usually, involves a team of dental professionals.
Which Option is Right For Me?
Each of these can be successful and there is often more than one option for your particular situation. Your dentist will determine which options are appropriate for your particular situation. Before making a decision, it is wise to share any concerns about the replacement process and long term results. The best treatment is the one that repairs the dental problem and fits easily into a daily oral care routine.
For more information: What You Should Know About Replacing Teeth.
Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in a comprehensive approach to dental care in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. When treatment plans include specialty work, he coordinates every step with the practitioners you choose from his referral network. Contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment.