Missing Teeth – Should You Replace Them? What Are Your Options?
If you’re like most people, the thought of losing one of your adult teeth is a scary one. It’s not something that’s supposed to happen – they’re called permanent teeth for a reason, right?
But sometimes – due to decay, gum disease, or trauma – people lose an adult tooth.
Once this happens, the question often arises: Should I get the missing tooth replaced?
As a practice, we advocate for tooth replacement.
Today, we’ll explain why it’s important to replace missing teeth. And then, we’ll review the three options you have for replacement: dental implants, bridges, and dentures.
The Importance of Replacing Missing Teeth
Losing a tooth can have a negative impact on your self-esteem. People just don’t feel as youthful or attractive as they did with a full set of teeth.
And even more importantly, losing a tooth impacts your dental health too.
If a tooth isn’t replaced, the surrounding tissues will start to shift. The gum and bone will recede because there’s no root to hold it in place. The adjacent teeth will shift to fill the space.
These shifts can cause the following issues.
- Jaw Pain and Broken Teeth: There’s a reason our teeth align the way they do – it creates a balanced bite. When you remove a key piece, it throws everything off. This can put strain on head and neck muscles, as well as the jaw joint. The extra pressure on the remaining teeth can also result in cracked or broken teeth.
- Decay and Gum Disease: As the teeth shift to fill in the open space, they can become difficult to clean. Some dental tools aren’t designed to adequately clean the angles created by the shifting teeth. This can result in decay as well as gum disease.
What Are Your Options?
To regain the balance a patient had before they lost a tooth, I recommend one of the following replacement options.
1. Dental Implants
An implant is made up of three parts: an implant (titanium screw into the bone), abutment (part of the implant that extends into the mouth), and crown or denture (restoration that has a natural tooth appearance).
A bridge is a permanently cemented appliance. At least two abutments and a pontic make up the bridge. The abutments are crowns that fit onto the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. The pontic is a fake tooth that fills in the space.
3. Removable Partial or Full Dentures
Dentures are a removable appliance that can replace a couple of teeth or all of them. Most patients find this the least desirable option when dealing with one or only a few missing teeth.
Why You Might Choose Dental Implants Over Other Tooth Replacement Options
Why do we recommend dental implants?
One reason is because a dental implant is like a real tooth. You can floss, brush, and eat normally.
Another reason is because the implant stabilizes the bone. And the crown that fits onto the implant abutment doesn’t allow the surrounding teeth to shift.
Another perk of dental implants is that they’re a great option regardless of how many teeth you’re missing.
What can you expect from the implant process?
We start off by removing the tooth or what remains of it, if it’s not already missing. Then, we evaluate if you need a bone graft or not. If some of the bone has resorbed, there might not be enough bone to support an implant, so a bone graft is necessary.
The next step is the implant surgery, where we place the implant screw into the jaw bone. It takes a couple of months for the implant to integrate into the bone. But eventually, the bone will start growing around the implant, making it very stable.
After this process has taken place, we’ll place the abutment onto the implant which allows us to take an impression. A lab tech uses this impression to fabricate a well-fitting crown, or a bridge or dentures if we need to replace multiple teeth.
Finally, when we get the crown, bridge, or denture back from the lab, we try it in and make adjustments if necessary. Then, we finish up by cementing the crown or bridge in place. Dentures simply snap into place – no cement is necessary.
Do You Have Dental Phobias? We Can Help!
If you need to have an extraction or already have a missing tooth, we urge you to consider replacing it with a dental implant. Doing so will help you avoid bone resorption and preserve the adjacent teeth.
We understand, if you’re hesitant to proceed with something like dental implants. This type of procedure can sound really intimidating to someone who has even the smallest amount of dental fear.
Please come in for a free consultation and to explore if you would be an ideal candidate for an implant. We would also like to hear about any fears or concerns you might have, so we can discuss options to help you feel as comfortable and calm as possible!