Did you know that it is estimated that about 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth? If you’re missing a tooth (or teeth!), you’re in good company. No matter your reasons for wanting to replace missing teeth, you have several options. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common ways to deal with a missing tooth.
A dental implant is a popular and effective answer to a missing tooth. A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically inserted into the jaw bone where it serves as an artificial tooth root holding the replacement tooth in place. The implant fuses with the bone through a process called osseointegration, making it nearly as sturdy and secure as a natural tooth. An implant can be used to replace missing teeth by fitting it with a crown for a single tooth, or an implant-supported denture for two or more missing teeth.
With the help of a dental implant, a crown can replace a single missing tooth. Commonly made of porcelain, a crown is permanently fixed to the dental implant where it is fitted to mimic the size and shape of the original tooth. A crown may also be used to cover an existing tooth which has lost its shape due to decay, trauma, or bruxism (teeth grinding).
There are two types of dentures: traditional dentures and implant-supported dentures. Both types are a removable solution for replacing two or more missing teeth. Traditional dentures are typically affixed directly to the patient’s gum with the use of adhesive or dental paste. Implant-supported dentures, as the name implies, are dentures that are supported by implants. Dental implants are inserted into the jaw and dentures snap onto them.
When there are one or more teeth on either side of a missing tooth, a bridge may be an option. Unlike dentures, a bridge is a fixed solution that is not removable. This method involves cutting down teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth to be able to connect (or bridge) them together. While the bridge is cemented to the two existing teeth, it is not connected to the gum itself (as a dental implant is). A bridge can effectively replace one or two missing teeth, and sometimes more if there is enough support.
Of course, there is always the option to do nothing. Depending on where the tooth is located in the mouth, you may be perfectly content leaving it alone. In most cases, as long as there is no abscess or other infection, this is fine to do. The bone surrounding the missing tooth will essentially melt away and the other teeth will shift to fill in the gap. If you choose not to replace the missing tooth, your dentist will probably want to monitor the area to make sure it does not cause problems for the other teeth or the bone around the missing tooth.
If you are searching for an option for replacing a missing tooth, schedule an appointment today. We can help you decide which options might be right for you.