No one wakes up, hoping for a gap in their smile. In fact, most people hope that they never have to experience it. Even those that are very diligent about caring for their teeth and gums could end up having tooth loss. Thankfully the dental industry has always had some type of replacement options available for those with missing teeth.
Missing tooth solutions have changed significantly over the years. While modern dental offices offer far and a better way to replace teeth than wooden dentures, the concept of dentures is still the same. As the industry evolved and technology became more widespread, we have received five or more great options for replacing missing teeth. In this article, we’ll go over the causes of missing teeth and the types of replacements available.
Common causes of a missing tooth
When most people think of missing teeth, they are brought to the idea of losing a tooth due to decay. This is very true that many patients with tooth loss have either lost their tooth because of substantial decay or have had an extraction to pull it out. Decay and extractions, which can go hand in hand if you aren’t careful, are the leading causes of needing tooth replacements.
Coming in at a close third for top causes for missing teeth is the tooth being knocked out. Whether you play professional hockey, or had something thrown at your mouth loosening or knocking a tooth out are common as well. While accidents aren’t preventable, you can take steps to ensure your teeth are protected with things like mouthguards when you play sports.
Eliminating the possibility of damaged and decayed teeth coming out or needing an extraction, quality dental care is a must. Seeing your dentist every six months can help limit the possibility of rampant decay.
Missing tooth replacement options
Know that we’ve gone over a few of the common ways a tooth could get misplaced, let’s focus on rebuilding the smile. Tooth restorations have changed a lot since they first hit the market. Now, most of these options will replace missing teeth and look completely natural. However, each has its own set of uses and differences
Dentures provide a wide range of missing teeth solutions. They can work for one missing tooth or a whole mouth. There are two types you can have, partial and full. These are removal, which makes it easy to clean. Most people like dentures because they are cost-effective, more so than any other restoration.
Partial dentures will replace one or more missing teeth. There will usually be healthy teeth left to help support the fixture, as well as a fake palate that rests on the top of the mouth. These are often uncomfortable at first, but patients typically don’t mind the wear after a month or two.
Full dentures are likely what most people think of when they think of dentures. These have artificial gums and teeth together as one insertable unit. Full dentures will replace an entire arch. What is great about these is that often full dentures will help the patient improve their quality of life. With many missing teeth, eating anything substantial will be a challenge. Dentures give a patient their bite back.
There are a couple of options when it comes to bridges, but the most commonly used are fixed bridges. These aren’t removable. Bridges are placed by your dentist and use the surrounding teeth for support. These are often more natural in appearance than partial dentures and are less likely to be covered by an insurance company.
Bridges will only work in situations where the teeth lost are in the same area. For example, one tooth getting knocked out can be replaced with a bridge, and if another tooth is knocked out right next to that gap, a bridge would also be the right choice.
Dental implants are an excellent resource for those looking to improve wearability, dependability, and function from their restorations. Dental implants aren’t what you see, despite many using dental implants interchangeably to what they support. Actually, dental implants are a metal post that is inserted directly into the jawbone. This post is what connects to the restoration, which could be either a crown, bridge, or dental denture that uses a particular connecting system.
Dental implants are the clear winner in just about every category except one. The most substantial downside is cost. Dental implants are the most expensive smile-enhancing solution. Most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of implants, due to it being considered a cosmetic procedure. However, in the next few years, this could change.
As mentioned above, dental implants aren’t what you see but the foundation for restoration. These specialized restorations are available as crowns perfect for one missing tooth, a dental implant-supported bridge for two or more teeth, and a full arch or All-On-4 dental implants using a denture.
Missing teeth can happen at any age and for a variety of reasons. While anyone can be affected by having a gap in their smile, there are available missing tooth replacement options. Whether a denture or bridge is the perfect solution or you’d like to try dental implants as a more permanent solution, the first step is talking to your dentist.