Once a tooth is lost, it is important to discuss replacement options. Teeth next to the missing tooth can shift into the space, and teeth in the opposite jaw can super-erupt into the space. This improper shifting of teeth creates new spaces where plaque can accumulate, and causes changes to the bite. Over time, bone loss can occur which leads to further tooth loss.
There are many ways to replace missing teeth. Dental implants, bridges, and removable dentures are the most common options.
Dental implants are titanium cylinders used to replace the roots of missing teeth. They can be used to replace a single tooth, a few teeth, or all teeth. Implants join with the bone to provide a solid foundation that will never decay. Implants also help to maintain the bone support of the adjacent teeth, extending their life span.
Dental implants have been used for over 50 years and have an extremely high rate of success. They are considered a permanent service and can be expected to last many, many years. Implants are the optimum choice for replacing missing teeth. State-of-the-art technology makes it possible for implant-supported replacement teeth to look, feel and function like natural teeth.
It is essential that dental implant therapy is carefully planned so that the final result looks and functions optimally. A prosthodontist has had years of specialty training in the planning and delivery of implants.
A bridge is used to replace a missing tooth or teeth by using the neighboring teeth to support a false tooth. The teeth on either side are prepared for crowns. A false tooth is placed in between and joined to the crowns to form a bridge, which is cemented into place. A bridge is fixed in place permanently. It can only be removed by a dentist and requires careful cleaning underneath the false tooth. Bridges can also be supported by dental implants.
Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth. Complete dentures replace all teeth and removable partial dentures replace some teeth. By matching each individual’s unique smile and bite, dentures can improve facial appearance and self-confidence. Dentures may also improve speech problems caused by missing teeth and will improve chewing.
It takes several appointments to construct dentures properly. They can be inserted the same day as teeth come out or after the gums have healed following extraction of teeth. Dentures are made of very sturdy plastic. Patients who have dentures should see their dentist every year for check ups on the gums and soft tissue, and to ensure the dentures are fitting properly. Dentures should be remade or relined as needed, usually every 5-10 years.
Due to differences in anatomy between upper and lower jaws, a lower denture is usually much looser than an upper denture. Dental implants should be considered as a way to secure dentures into place, or eliminate the need for adhesives.
Removable Partial Dentures
For patients missing several teeth but not all of their teeth, a removable partial denture may be recommended. This type of denture uses the remaining teeth to hold or anchor the false teeth in place. The partial denture is removed overnight and for cleaning.
There are many different types and designs for partial dentures. Traditionally, they are made of a metal framework with pink plastic to replace the gum tissue, and plastic or resin denture teeth. The number of missing teeth and their location will affect the comfort and stability of the removable partial denture. The use of dental implants will increase the stability and comfort of a partial denture and may eliminate the need for visible metal clasps.
Implant Retained Dentures and Fixed Dentures
While dentures have been a reliable method of tooth replacement for many years, they come with their own set of issues. The main problem is that dentures rest on teeth and gums for stability, and without proper care, can encourage bone loss, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Many patients also find the movement of dentures uncomfortable, making them difficult to use.
Dental implants can be used in a variety ways to improve the stability and feel of complete and partial dentures. As few as two implants can hold a denture in place, while 4 to 6 implants can fully support a restoration that replaces all of the upper or lower teeth. With the appropriate number of implants, the restoration can be fixed in place permanently and is called a fixed complete denture. These “fixed dentures” can be made of resin and plastic, or porcelain and metal. Dr. Smith will explain these options and which one may be best for you.
ONE DAY TEETH
One Day Teeth, also known as New Teeth Today, Teeth-in-a-Day, and All-on-Four, is a procedure that allows the precision placement of dental implants and full arch restorations in a single visit, all while you sleep. A prosthodontist is THE most highly trained dental specialist in these restorations. More info with photos