Missing a tooth or facing a tooth extraction? You’re not alone. In fact, the average adult aged 35 to 49 in the United States is missing seven teeth. Assuming maybe 4 of those teeth are wisdom teeth that have been removed, that still leaves 3 teeth that are just missing, whether due to an accident, gum disease, tooth decay or a congenital hereditary condition.
Chances are there is someone you know who has had to replace missing teeth, though you might not be aware of it yourself. That’s because many options for tooth replacement look like the natural tooth. You can’t tell from the person’s smile they ever lost a tooth.
There are lots of great options to replace missing teeth. But you know one terrible option? Doing nothing about it. This can lead to all sorts of problems in your mouth and jawbone. Your surrounding teeth will shift, causing issues with your bite and perhaps even leading to further tooth loss. Your jawbone also starts to literally disintegrate. The longer you go without replacing a missing tooth, the harder it becomes to have dental implants in the future. You may require dental bone grafting where we try to rebuild the jawbone from other tissues in your body.
Here are 7 options for you to consider for tooth replacement. The right option depends on your budget, preferences, and unique dental care needs.
Dental implants are by far your best option for tooth replacement. That’s because implants look and function like natural teeth. We surgically attach a dental implant post into your jawbone. This is topped with a ceramic crown that looks like a natural tooth. The beauty of dental implants is they are a permanent solution to tooth replacement. Success rates for dental implants are 95%.
And yes, same day dental implants are possible — depending on the strength of your jawbone. Like we said, the longer you’ve gone without replacing the tooth, the more likely you’ll need a dental bone graft — which can make same day dental implants challenging.
Be aware that dental implants are expensive. They can cost thousands of dollars. Some insurance companies consider them to be a cosmetic procedure and may not cover the treatment.
Implant Supported Bridges
Are you missing several teeth close together? Bridges supported by dental implants are a more affordable option than replacing each tooth with a dental implant. You receive a bridge that is held in place with dental implants on either side. This is a stronger, longer lasting option than dentures, but they aren’t designed to last forever. Eventually, they will need to be replaced.
Tooth Supported Bridge
As we mentioned, dental implants can get expensive. For a more affordable alternative, we can also introduce a bridge that is held in place with your existing teeth — no dental implants required. A crown is placed on the teeth, which are next to the missing ones and cemented into place. You get the same natural look you’d have with a dental implant without the expense. This is not a permanent solution to replacing the teeth, however, and will need to be replaced overtime.
Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures is a simple, affordable option to replace missing teeth. Rather than a full set of dentures, partial dentures are designed to replace a few missing teeth that are next to each other. The dentures are clasped into place so that the false teeth are positioned in the right spots. You’ll of course need to remove the dentures at night, soak them, and clean them — just as you would a full set of dentures.
A flipper is a partial denture with the ability to flip in and out of its position, hence the name. It is not attached to surrounding teeth and is not clasped into place. It’s lighter than a partial denture and also cheap. A flipper is a temporary measure, something you can use until a more permanent option is available or you can afford it.
Removable Complete Dentures
If you are missing all of your teeth, you might consider getting a full set of dentures. This is a low-cost and non-invasive alternative to dental implant treatment. You can have the appearance of natural teeth and be able to eat normally again.
Dentures are removable. You’ll need to take them out at night and clean them. They can also shift in your mouth. As your mouth changes, they might not fit as tightly. Eventually, they’ll need to be resized and replaced.
Resin Bonded Bridge
Also known as a Maryland bridge or a Rochette bridge, a resin bonded bridge is designed to replace only the front teeth. That’s because it is fragile and cannot withstand the force of a full bite. A resin bonded bridge consists of two wings that are attached to the abutment teeth on the tooth surfaces nearest to the tongue. The wings are attached to the replacement tooth or pontic.
You’ll need healthy and strong front teeth. We may remove some tooth enamel to create a rougher surface for easy attachment.