It’s estimated that by adulthood 1 out of every 7 people in America will be missing at least 1 tooth. Wisdom teeth aren’t counted in this equation since they are not vital to the function or the aesthetics of the mouth while all other teeth should be replaced if they are lost. You do have options when it comes to teeth that are missing and the proper procedure for you will all depend on the number of teeth that are missing, your budget and your short-term and long-term dental goals.
If you’re just missing 1 or 2 teeth you may have the option of getting a bridge or implants. In most cases implants will cost a lot more than a bridge but they have proven to be a long-term solution. An implant involves securing a titanium post to the jawbone and allowing it to fuse over several months. Once this has been accomplished, a realistic dental crown is inserted onto the post, which is the part that you can see above the gum line. It looks just like a real tooth and functions just as well as a natural tooth.
Your other option may be to create a bridge between 2 healthy teeth to add 2 tooth. With this bridge alternative, however, the empty space under the gum line remains vacant. When a tooth is lost, the bone underneath it isn’t stimulated as it would be with an implant or a natural tooth. The bone will started to deteriorate and could ultimately change your facial appearance over time. As well, in order to place a bridge, the 2 teeth that are going to be acting as the support units will need to be ground down in order to properly attach the new bridge.
A bridge may be recommended if the patient cannot afford to get implants or a partial denture may be considered as well. While a partial denture isn’t as comfortable or as stable as an implant or a bridge, it may be the best option for some patients. Many people decide to wear a partial while they are saving up for an implant. This may also be the best option when an implant or bridge is not indicated.
Sometimes an implant cannot be added if there isn’t enough bone to hold it. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to see your dentist as soon as possible once you have lost your tooth before any bone damage can take place. You’ll want to have as many options available to you to replace the missing tooth or teeth as you can. As well, if the tooth is located in the front of the mouth, you’ll want to get the situation handled quickly to improve your speech and your appearance.
Your dentist will let you know the best course of action based on your own personal dental history and the state of your mouth and teeth in present time. Just keep in mind that time is always of the essence when you have a dental situation that you need to get resolved.