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 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 –

1. Implants

Implants are titanium posts that are surgically placed in the jaw bone. Implants are the best option in terms of function and aesthetics as they mimic a natural tooth in design and looks. (2)

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.

                          ADVANTAGES                             DISADVANTAGES
  • More comfortable, natural and appealing aesthetic
  • Permanent, durable
  • 95% treatment success rate
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Best option to prevent jaw bone loss
  • Doesn’t require modification of adjacent teeth
  • Expensive
  • Time-consuming
  • Needs surgery
  • The success rate is low in patients with particular medical histories, poor gum health, and hygiene

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.

                      ADVANTAGES                          DISADVANTAGES
  • Looks, feel and function like natural teeth
  • Doesn’t require removal for cleaning
  • Costs less than implants
  • Less dependent on the patient’s health, can be done at any age
  • Must have teeth on either side of the gap
  • Affects the teeth adjacent to the bridge
  • May require extra effort to clean under pontic

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 through the day and removed at night for cleaning.

                       ADVANTAGES                          DISADVANTAGES
  • Less expensive than bridges or implants
  • Easier to repair than bridges
  • Doesn’t require surgery
  • No alterations to any adjacent teeth
  • Removable
  • Less esthetic
  • Less stable
  • Less functional
  • Less comfortable
  • Harder to clean

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.

                        ADVANTAGES                     DISADVANTAGES
  • Provide adequate lip and cheek muscle support, restore facial dimensions and create a younger appearance
  • Fast and affordable treatment option
  • A dentist can adjust or reline them to accommodate the changing shape of the jaw bone
  • Become ill-fitting with time due to your changing jaw bone shape
  • Have to be removed at night every day for cleaning
  • Have to be kept out overnight for the gums to recover
  • Requires several adjustments to make them comfortable

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 –

  1. Implant-supported removable dentures
  2. Implant-supported fixed dentures

Conclusion

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.

There are several options, such as implants, bridges, etc., which can replace missing teeth depending on the location, span & no. of teeth.