People may want to replace missing teeth for a variety of reasons. For many people, their appearance is one important reason. Another common reason is that the space once occupied by a missing tooth can affect surrounding teeth on each side of the resulting gap.
When you have a missing tooth, adjacent teeth can shift into that empty space, leading to problems with your bite. Food can also become impacted within the gap, potentially leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
The way that missing teeth are replaced varies, depending upon how many teeth are missing and their location in your mouth. The condition of remaining teeth is also a factor in the decision.
There are basically three ways to replace a missing tooth: One is by replacing the missing tooth using something called a partial denture, which is a removable false tooth. Another method of tooth replacement is using a fixed bridge. This method is typically employed when there are not so many teeth requiring replacement, or when missing teeth are located on just one side of the mouth. A third option is undergoing a dental implant procedure. This involves the placement of an artificial tooth root into the jawbone and the placement of a crown or bridge on top.
A dental bridge is simply an artificial tooth placed permanently in your mouth. This restoration method is called a bridge since it bridges the gap found between existing teeth. Bridges are typically secured with a type of cement or bond to adjacent teeth. A normal bridge comprises an artificial tooth surrounded by two dental crowns fitting over nearby teeth. In cases where no suitable adjacent teeth are missing, bridges can be affixed to dental implants.
Materials found in bridges include gold, porcelain or metal alloys. The type of material that we use depends upon your own individual preference, as well as our recommendations.
Partial dentures differ from dental bridges in that they are a removable method of tooth replacement. Just as any dentures that act as a replacement for a complete row of teeth, you can remove a partial denture for cleaning and sleeping. Partial dentures also include a pink acrylic that resembles gum tissue, and the false teeth are mounted onto it. Dental bridges just consist of replacement teeth only. Special attachments or clasps are used to attach partial dentures within the mouth.
If you have a sequence of missing teeth, we would probably recommend getting partial dentures. In the case of only one or two missing teeth, a bridge may make a better choice. One other consideration is the outlook on your dental health into the future. If there is a significant chance of losing additional teeth, it may not be wise to affix a restoration to a tooth that may eventually be lost. In this case, a partial denture may be appropriate.