Although losing a tooth as an adult is a relatively rare occurrence these days due to advances in dental care and improved oral care at home, it’s still not something that is unheard of. There are several reasons why a person might be missing a tooth—from advanced gum disease that wasn’t treated in time to an injury that knocked the tooth out of position. Thankfully, there are now more tooth replacement options than ever before. If you’re missing a tooth or multiple teeth, learn more about what you can do to replace it.
The dental implants are the most advanced tooth replacement option. An implant doesn’t just rest on the surface of the gums. Instead, it is attached securely to the jawbone by a titanium post. The jawbone fuses to the titanium, and the post is able to act as a substitute for the root of the tooth. The implant is then topped with a crown for a natural-looking result.
Surgery is required for getting an implant, which means that they aren’t the right pick for everyone. If you have a medical condition that increases your risk for complications after surgery, your dentist might recommend another replacement option.
Dentures might be the most old-school way to replace missing teeth. They date back to around 700 BC. Dentures are still around today, even though there are more advanced options available, because they are commonly the most affordable option for replacing a missing tooth or teeth. When other natural teeth are still in the mouth, dentures attach to those teeth with a small metal clasp. If a denture is replacing all of the teeth on either the top or bottom row, the device attaches to the top of the gums.
The fact that you can remove dentures can be both a blessing and a curse. Removing them makes them easier to clean. But, there’s also the small risk that you can swallow the dentures or that you’ll misplace them or lose them. Dentures can also be uncomfortable and take some time to get used to wearing.
A fixed bridge is also connected to remaining natural teeth in the mouth and can be used to replace one or several lost teeth. The big difference between a bridge and dentures is that the bridge is permanently positioned in the mouth. Only a dentist or oral surgeon can remove it.
The process of preparing a fixed bridge can be quite involved. The dentist needs to file down the teeth on either side of the bridge, removing the enamel, so that the prosthetic teeth can fit over top. Often, it’s a two-step process, as the dentist takes an impression of the teeth and sends that to a lab to create the bridge. While the bridge is being made, you’ll be given a temporary one to wear. Once the permanent bridge is ready, you’ll need to go back to the dentist to have it fitted into place.
Fixed bridges are pricier than dentures and don’t have to be removed for cleaning. They’re a little more affordable than implants, although they might not have as long of a shelf-life.
Replacing a missing tooth does more than improve your smile’s appearance. It can also help protect your remaining teeth and keep your gums healthy. Oral surgeon Dr. Majid Jamali is happy to discuss your implant and tooth replacement options with you. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Jamali at his New York City practice, call (212) 480-2777 today.