Tooth Replacement Options

At one time in their lives, most people will be in need of a tooth replacement. You may be considering a tooth replacement option due to dental decay, an accident that has broken the tooth, or simply to change the appearance of your smile. Tooth replacement has come a long way in recent years. The technology and materials used offer the patient a variety of options to consider. The three options for tooth replacement are a bridge, a removable appliance, and dental implants. Each option has benefits and considerations.

Bridges – At one time, bridges were the best option for restoring missing teeth. A bridge is created by filing down the two teeth on either side of the missing tooth, and then fabricating a bridge, which consists of three crowns that act as a bridge across the gap. The bridge is made by using a dental impression of the teeth before filing them down. The advantage of bridges are that they are permanent and durable. The feel like your own teeth and completely hide the missing tooth. In most cases, you cannot tell the difference between a bridge and natural teeth. The downside to this method is that it requires that two healthy teeth be filed down to accommodate the bridge. As dentists are in the business of saving teeth, dental implants are preferred by dentists if possible.  The advantages of a bridge are that it is fixed, stable, and feels like your own teeth. In most cases, the bridge looks just like you never had a tooth missing. The disadvantage is that you have to file down the two teeth on either side of the missing tooth. These teeth in most cases need to be perfectly sound with nothing wrong.

Removable Appliance – Removable appliances come in a variety of options. A ‘dental flipper’ is simply a piece of durable plastic attached to a false tooth. A Nesbit is a more substantial, durable acrylic over metal partial denture. Removable appliances are a more cost effective option than a bridge or dental implant, but not as cost effective as not replacing the tooth altogether. Removable appliances can replace one or more teeth. They are not as natural looking as a bridge or dental implant. Removable appliances are not as sturdy as a bridge or implant, and may be uncomfortable. 

Dental Implant – We believe dental implants as the best treatment option when replacing missing teeth. The procedure is considered both cosmetic dentistry and prosthetic dentistry. As the procedure has gained acceptance within the dental industry, it is covered by most dental insurance plans as a necessity and not an optional treatment. A dental implant is essentially an artificial root that is affixed to the jaw. The tooth is affixed to the implant. Structurally, implants are the closest thing to growing a new tooth.  

Dental implants are the most durable and effective option for replacing teeth. The greatest disadvantages to dental implants are the cost and time involved with the procedure. The procedure requires that you work with one dentist who performs the surgery of affixing the root to the jawbone and another who will make the crown and affix it to the root. There is also a healing period required, which lasts about two months between the time the root is established and the new tooth is being affixed.  Since they are permanent and the most durable option available, implants are a great investment, if you can afford it.

Not replacing the tooth- There are many people who opt not to replace the missing tooth. This may be the most affordable option, but it causes the most long-term damage to your mouth. Teeth provide natural spacers in your mouth. When a tooth is missing, the other teeth will eventually shift. The long-term effects can cause your bite to substantially change. If enough teeth move, you may need to correct your bite later on with dentures or braces. Finally, the greatest drawback to not replacing the missing teeth is that the jawbone will eventually shrink and deteriorate in the spot where the tooth is missing. Upon an exam and x-rays, your dentist can determine the best options for your situation. Not everyone is a good candidate for some procedures and only a dental professional can make the determination.

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