It is important to maintain a healthy and attractive dentition throughout life. Tooth loss can result in many negative oral health outcomes. For example, missing teeth can affect how we chew, speak, and how we appear. When a tooth is lost, the resulting space often affects the alignment of the neighboring teeth--much like a missing book in a bookshelf affects the neighboring books. Teeth above or below a missing tooth will tend to move into the empty space. Missing many teeth can limit the efficiency with which we chew and digest food. This can affect overall nutrition. Missing back teeth can cause our facial features to sink in causing a "hollowed" and much older appearance.
Fortunately, today there are safe, proven, and aesthetically beautiful and functional alternatives for replacing missing teeth.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How necessary is it to replace my missing tooth?
Some of our patients choose to postpone or forego tooth replacement altogether. This obviously depends on the particular tooth and its role in the appearance and function of each unique mouth and bite. Some patients do quite well with several missing teeth and a shortened dental arch. Others insist on quickly restoring any failure of their natural teeth. At Academy Dental, we are committed to providing you the individual information and care that will allow you to assume an informed and comfortable role in choosing what treatment options work best for you.
What options do I have for replacing a tooth?
What is a dental implant?
Depending on the tooth and your own situation, we at Academy Dental may recommend one or more of three options: i) a dental implant; ii) a fixed bridge; or iii) a removable partial denture (or removable bridge).
A dental implant is a secure and stable tooth replacement option that most resembles the function of a natural tooth. Instead of tooth roots, an implant has a surgically placed titanium anchor. Dentists often refer to the anchor as the "implant" itself. Instead of an enamel crown, an implant has a porcelain crown that is attached to the anchor via a titanium post. Dentists refer to the post as the "abutment". The porcelain crown may be fabricated via a dental lab or via our CEREC CAD/CAM technology. Click here to read more about implants.
Advantages to implants
- Most similar to a natural tooth
- Does not affect next door teeth
- Decreases local bone loss
Disadvantages to implants
What is a fixed bridge?
- Not appropriate for everyone
- More involved procedure meaning more visits and time
- More expensive than removable bridges and some fixed bridges
A fixed bridge spans the space left by losing one or more teeth. In order to span this space, a fixed bridge depends on the teeth of an arch before and after the toothless space. Fixed bridges are not possible if the toothless space is at the end of the dental arch.
A fixed bridge consists of a series of three or more special porcelain crowns attached in a row. At both ends of a fixed bridge are special porcelain crowns called "abutments". Between the abutments are the porcelain crowns meant to replace the missing teeth. These porcelain crowns are called "pontics". Fixed bridges are made in dental labs.
Fixed bridges are attached permanently by special cements to the teeth neighboring the toothless space in a dental arch. Click here to read more about fixed bridges.
Advantages to fixed bridges
- Also look, feel, and function like your own teeth
- Stay in your mouth--no need to remove to clean
- Involve no surgery
- Usually involve many less visits and much less time than implants or removable dentures
Disadvantages to fixed bridges
- Affects the teeth next to the toothless space
- More expensive than removable bridges
What is a removable partial denture?
A removable partial denture or RPD (sometimes called a removable bridge) is a custom appliance built for a specific mouth and a specific set of teeth. Built on a precision fabricated metal framework, an RPD consists of features that allow it to firmly attach to the remaining teeth. Where teeth are missing, artificial teeth are placed on the framework.
As its name implies, an RPD is easily removed from the mouth. It should be removed and cleaned routinely. There are many types and features available for RPDs. At Academy Dental, we'll help you choose which RPD will work best for you.
- Easier to repair and adjust
- More economical--especially when needing to replace several teeth
- Involve no surgery
- Usually involve many less visits and much less time than implants
- Less stability means less biting force than the fixed alternatives
- It is possible to break or lose RPDs
- Not everyone finds RPDs comfortable
- Not everyone finds removing and replacing an appliance practical
source: American Dental Association