When a tooth is lost, you may choose to replace it for many reasons:
- To improve your smile
- to make eating chewing easier
- to prevent damage to the gums and adjacent teeth when food is compressed into the space.
There are 4 established choices for replacing missing teeth:
1/Partial dentures– these are replacement teeth which are removable for cleaning. They may be acrylic or metal-based.
2/ Fixed bridgework. A bridge is usually used in smaller spaces, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth. These are not removable, and involve reduction of the teeth adjacent to the space before they can be fitted. They have the advantages of strength and good aesthetics.
3/ Adhesive bridgework. These are bridges that are bonded onto the tooth or teeth beside a space, using metal “wings”. They are fixed in place, but have the advantage of minimal or no reduction of the adjacent teeth.
4/ Dental implants. These are artificial titanium roots which become integrated into the jawbone, allowing a crown or bridge to be solidly attached. Implants are the best long-term solution, and will give the feeling closest to having your own tooth back. They have the advantages that they are fixed solidly, and that they do not involve reduction of the adjacent teeth.
Which is the best option?
This depends on the number of teeth missing; the number of spaces and the position they are in; the condition of your remaining teeth; how heavy your bite is and your available budget. Please discuss with your dentist which is the best option for you.