Missing Teeth & Implants
When a tooth is lost, it’s best to replace it as soon as possible so function can be restored as soon as possible and unwanted complications can be avoided. Complications can include teeth in the opposing jaw moving into the empty space, teeth on either side of the space leaning into the empty space, or a gradual wasting away of the bone structure.
Options for Replacing a Missing Tooth (or Teeth)
1. Removable Denture: A removable appliance that replaces one or multiple teeth. For the most part, they replace the part of the teeth that are visible (the crowns).
- Simplest option – no surgery involved.
- Least expensive option.
- It’s removable
- It sits on the gums and is not in fixed in the jaw (it does not stimulate the jawbone preventing it from wasting away).
- Clasps attaching to the adjacent teeth are visible.
- Could potentially hinder normal taste sensation if the denture acrylic covers taste buds.
2. Bridge: A bridge is a fixed prosthesis used to replace one or multiple missing teeth. This is done by trimming the teeth on either side of the missing tooth creating stumps. Then an impression is taken and sent to a lab where they fabricate a prosthesis that is cemented onto the two trimmed teeth, connecting them together, forming a “bridge”.
- If the teeth on either side of the empty space have large fillings or root canals and need to be crowned (capped) anyway, this can be a great option as the bridge is basically two crowns connected to one another.
- If the teeth on either side of the space are healthy, sound tooth structure needs to be removed.
- Sometimes the nerves of the teeth that are getting trimmed become inflamed and may require a root canal, which renders the tooth non-vital and more fragile.
- Bridges are usually more difficult to maintain. The number one reason bridges fail is due to lack of maintenance (they need to be flossed daily with a special floss threader).
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3. Implant: A dental implant is made of a titanium root-shaped post that replaces the natural root. The implant is placed in the jawbone where it is left to form an intimate connection with the surrounding bone. This usually takes between 3 to 6 months. After healing, a crown is fabricated and placed on the implant, best replicating the form and function of the natural missing tooth.
- It best reproduces what was there naturally – the implant reproduces the root and the tooth crown.
- The teeth on either side of the space are not trimmed.
- The implant is placed in the jawbone, thereby stimulating the bone (and the bone is not lost by wasting).
- No special home cleaning techniques are needed, just regular brushing and flossing.
- It will likely last longer than any of the other options.
- It costs less in the long-term.
- It takes more time than any of the other options.
- It costs more in the short term.
We would be more than happy to discuss your options in more detail and show you models to see which one suits you best during your consultation appointment.