missing teeth represented by puzzle

Some people have congenitally missing teeth; they were born without one or more permanent tooth under the gums. Others’ teeth came in, but left large gaps between teeth. These issues can cause physical and emotional problems, especially when the empty spaces are in the front of the mouth.

In addition to a less-attractive smile, other complications can occur:

  • Bite problems
  • Gum disease
  • Improper bone growth

We find that when there is adequate space between teeth, and bone quality/quantity is sufficient, permanently-embedded implants are usually the best long-term option. Not only do implants restore your smile, they allow you to eat and chew normally. Implants also help preserve bone and tooth health.

When Implants Aren’t an Option

When there is not enough space between teeth, or bone quality is poor, we recommend a fixed partial denture, otherwise known as a bridge. Made from metal, porcelain, ceramic, and/or resin, bridges are cemented to prepared abutment teeth (teeth beside the missing tooth).

A false tooth–which looks and functions like a natural tooth–goes in the gap, but does not penetrate the gum like an implant. The device stays in your mouth all the time, unlike a removable partial.

(Fixed Partial) Denture Advantages

  • Dental insurance is less likely to cover an implant than a bridge.
  • Fixed partial dentures usually involve a shorter treatment period.
  • If a tooth next to the gap needs a filling or a crown, that work can be done when the bridge is installed.

Dental Implant Advantages

  • With an implant, you simply brush and floss as with your natural teeth. Bridges require more maintenance.
  • Bridges, especially in the lower jaw, can break/leak, allowing bacteria to get in. Implants rarely do.
  • Dentures last up to 10 years; implants can last a lifetime.
  • Implants do not affect adjacent teeth, reducing the chance of root decay.
  • Implants fuse with the bone of your jaw (replacing teeth roots), helping to keep the bone healthy and save the rest of your teeth. Dentures do not.

Another of our blog post lists additional reasons why more patients are choosing implants, too numerous to mention here.

Both dentures and implants address the look, functioning and health of a mouth with gaps. The right choice for you depends on your age, the condition of your teeth, gums and bones, your finances, and other factors.

Of course, you do not have to fix the gap; people live lifetimes with missing teeth. However, we recommend finding a solution, not only for the boost a confident smile imparts, but also for the long-term health of your jaw, gums, teeth and bones.

If you are ready to fix that hole in your smile, call Wilmington Oral Surgery for a free consultation.

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