Natural teeth are always the best teeth. However, sometimes teeth become damaged and eventually lost. Missing teeth can lead to problems such as drifting and over-eruption of nearby teeth. When teeth drift out of line, they may be at an increased risk of developing cavities, periodontal disease, bone loss, and even bite and occlusion issues. In order to prevent these issues, your dentist may recommend replacement of the missing teeth.
There are three main ways to replace missing teeth:
A bridge, also known as a “fixed bridge” or a “fixed dental prosthesis”, is a treatment option that can replace missing teeth. It essentially replaces one or more missing tooth by utilizing nearby teeth as abutments that will allow the crowns to link together with an artificial tooth in the middle. To prepare a bridge, 2 appointments are needed. The first appointment involves the preparation of the nearby teeth and an accurate impression of the teeth that is taken and sent to the lab. From the impression, the lab will fabricate a bridge that the dentist will cement chairside.
Dentures are artificial replacements for your natural teeth and gums. Dentures are generally the treatment of choice if there are only a few or no healthy teeth remaining, as it allows the replacement of multiple teeth. Partial dentures are held in place by clasps and rests that use nearby natural teeth as supports. Full dentures, on the other hand, are held in place mainly by suction. If there is advanced bone loss, it may affect the ability of your mouth to cope with the dentures. All dentures are removable, which means that you can take them out to clean at night.
Dental implants are artificial roots made of titanium. It is placed in the jawbone, which acts as an anchorage for the artificial tooth replacement, or crown. Dental implants are highly esthetic and the implanted tooth feels the most natural out of all replacement options. If you are in good health, have healthy gums and bone then the implant procedure would be very straightforward. If you have lost significant amount of bone as a result of gum disease and/or due to loss of tooth for a prolonged period of time then there might be a need for bone grafting. Bone grafting procedure is a method of adding more bone to your jawbone.
The dentist requires a set of x-rays to confirm the type and size of an implant as well as the location of vital structures. That may require obtaining a Cone Beam CT (CBCT). The patients also need a preliminary impression of your jaws to select the appropriate size of the replacement tooth (crown). After completing the due diligence, the first stage of the surgery is done where an implant is placed into the jawbones. A few months have to be allocated for optimum healing of the gums and integration of implant to jawbone.
After healing of the first stage, the second stage of the treatment begins where we place a post (called abutment) that connects the implant to the replacement tooth. The replacement tooth is made by dental laboratories and might require a couple of visits to the dental office for it to be fabricated.