In dentistry, there are four main ways to replace missing teeth. These four ways include:
1. Dental Implants
2. Fixed Bridges
3. Removable Partial Dentures
Dental implants feel much like natural teeth and are considered to be a complete replacement of the tooth itself and the root. The natural tooth is removed and the dentist places a small titanium fixture in the space where the root used to be. This fixture will then fuse to the bone acting like your natural tooth root. A connector (abutment) and crown are then placed on top of the implant to complete the restoration.
Many patients are choosing implants for tooth replacement because they are more durable, more natural, and healthier in the mouth than the other options. They are very predictable in healthy patients but a thorough medical and dental evaluation will determine if you are a good candidate. Smokers, uncontrolled diabetics, and people with uncontrolled periodontal disease have a lower success rate than that of healthy individuals. Having a complete examine by the dentist will help you to determine if an implant is the right choice for you!
A fixed bridge is a series of crowns that are connected to replace a tooth or teeth in the space where one or more teeth have been lost. A fixed bridge is bonded in your mouth and cannot be taken out. The crowns that cover the patient’s natural teeth are called abutments. The false tooth that replaces the missing tooth is called a pontic. The different types of materials that can be used for a bridge include porcelain, zirconium oxide (white), aluminum oxide (white), porcelain fused to metal, and all metal in some cases.
The advantages of a fixed bridge:
1. Looks and functions like your natural teeth
2. Not an appliance you have to remove and clean daily
3. Faster process
4. Very strong
5. Predictable insurance coverage
Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures are used to replace several missing teeth in the same arch. Partial dentures have plastic or porcelain replacement teeth molded to gum-colored material that is then attached to a cast metal framework. These appliances attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps for strong support. A removable partial denture is generally the least expensive way to replace several missing teeth at once. Partial dentures are worn during the day and are removed at night and during brushing. This appliance can trap food underneath, so it is very important to take it out daily and clean the partial as well as your other teeth to keep your mouth healthy.
A complete denture is made when a patient needs every tooth in the upper and/or lower arch replaced. All of the natural teeth are removed and replaced by the denture either simultaneously (immediate dentures) or over a period of time after healing has taken place. This prosthesis is obviously the least desirable alternative but many patients have learned to function with them over time. They generally will need a professional reline periodically to readapt to the changing tissues underneath. The bone and tissue of the jaws deteriorate over time without the presence of teeth or dental implants so the dentures become loose and ill-fitting. Some people need adhesives if the shape of their mouth or the lack of bone support requires it.
Replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance and your health. Without support from a denture after loosing all your natural teeth, patients will have problems with changes in their facial appearance, changes in speech, and compromised eating abilities.