Losing one or more teeth because of dental disease, injury or any other reason is unfortunate. You need your full set of teeth to perform all the functions and maintain the natural state of the oral cavity. Missing teeth not only affect your functionality, but it also changes your appearance and how you speak.
Fortunately, there are several options, such as implants, bridges, dentures, etc., which can replace missing teeth depending on the number of missing teeth, location, and span. Continue reading to find all about the various options available for the replacement of missing teeth and which option is the best for you.
Why is it important to replace missing teeth?
The everyday activities of chewing, biting, and speaking use teeth, which also put stress on the jaw bone. If we do not stress the jaw bone, the density of jaw bone can diminish.
When you lose a tooth, the jaw bone around it can disintegrate with time. It can cause the neighboring teeth to shift in the gap and changing your bite. This, in turn, makes you look older and makes it difficult to speak and eat. Replacing missing teeth is essential to maintain the necessary functionality and aesthetics. (1)
Let’s now discuss the options you have for replacing your missing teeth –
As implants require surgery, a patient should be in good health overall. The patient either must have adequate bone to support the implant or be able to have surgery to build up the area needing the implant.
They should also be ready to commit to daily oral care routine and regular dental visits. Patients with chronic illnesses or with habits of tobacco chewing and smoking are not good candidates for implants.
2. Fixed partial dentures (Bridges)
The next best option for single tooth replacement, after implants, is fixed partial dentures or bridges. For a bridge, the two teeth on either side of the gap are prepared to receive the crowns, and a ‘fake tooth’ or ‘pontic’ is added in between them to fill the space. The bridge is fixed on the teeth using cement, and only a dentist can take it out.
3. Removable partial dentures (RPD)
RPD replaces one or more missing teeth and is not fixed inside the mouth. It is made from acrylic and metal wires. It takes practice to put in and take out an RPD. These are ideally the last option to replace a missing tooth. (3) RPD is only worn throughout the day and removed at night for cleaning.
4. Complete dentures
Complete dentures are low-cost options when you need to replace an entire arch of teeth. It doesn’t require any surgery. It is not fixed in the mouth and has to take out at night for cleaning.
5. Implant-supported dentures
Implant-supported dentures are a type of overdenture attached to and supported by implants. It merely rests on your gums and provides better support than removable dentures (complete or partial).
There are two types of implant-supported dentures –
- Implant-supported removable dentures
- Implant-supported fixed dentures
FAQs for missing teeth
Can you get braces with missing teeth?
Yes, braces can be used in people with missing teeth. Missing teeth cases are most suitable for orthodontic treatment as they require proper alignment to ensure you have a good smile.
Usually, when a person has missing teeth for a long time, the adjacent teeth migrate or shift into the missing tooth space. It further leads to the spacing between the other teeth in the mouth. Moreover, I make a tooth replacement procedure very difficult due to the loss of missing tooth space caused by the tilting of the adjacent teeth.
With orthodontic braces, you can fill the space by aligning all the teeth in the mouth and repositioning them in line, or you can upright the tilted tooth and maintain the space for replacement of missing teeth.
How to replace missing teeth?
Following are the options suitable for replacing missing teeth –
- Dental implant – dental implant placement is generally a surgical procedure in which a missing tooth space is replaced with a dental implant fused into the jawbone. Dental implants are one of the best options for replacing a single tooth. However, they may not be the best option for multiple teeth replacement.
One of the prime advantages of dental implants is that it looks and feels like a natural tooth. Moreover, dental implants are durable and last for years.
- Tooth supported dental bridge – a tooth-supported dental bridge fills the gap between one or more missing teeth. However, the fabrication of a dental bridge may require multiple trips to the dentist. This is because the process of customizing the dental bridge and placing it in the missing tooth space takes more time.
A tooth-supported dental bridge usually looks, feels, and functions like a natural tooth. Moreover, it is typically much more cost-effective than a dental tooth implant.
- Removable partial denture – usually, a removable partial denture consists of artificial teeth on a small section of missing teeth that looks and functions like natural teeth.
A removable partial denture is great for chewing. However, they are less durable than a tooth implant or dental bridge. Moreover, removable dentures can become uncomfortable when worn for an extended amount of time.
Removable complete dentures can be relatively invasive and require multiple trips to the dentist. However, unlike a removable partial denture, a full removable denture is used to replace most or all teeth.
What is the medical term for missing teeth?
The medical term used for missing teeth is usually, Edentulism or toothlessness. It is typically the condition of being toothless to some degree in organisms that naturally have a dentition. Edentulism is caused as a result of tooth loss.
A condition where few teeth are missing is usually called partial edentulism, whereas loss of all teeth is called complete edentulism. In other words, people who have lost teeth either partially or wholly are considered as edentulous (edentate), whereas those who have not lost teeth are called dentate by comparison.
Over to you
Whether you are missing a single tooth or more, it is more than a mere inconvenience. A missing tooth affects your appearance, how you eat, and how you speak. It is always better to replace the missing teeth as soon as possible, to maintain the health of your natural teeth and surrounding structures.
There are many options available for replacement. Your dentist will decide the best choice for you based on your health, condition of oral structures, and the amount of money you are willing to spend. Do not let a single missing tooth destroy your beautiful, healthy smile.