Options for Replacing Missing Teeth
If you have a tooth missing in the back of your mouth and no one sees it, you may
not think it’s important to replace it, but a gap can affect your “bite”. The teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and change how your upper and lower teeth bite together. Your other teeth can also shift apart. Food can also get packed into the gap causing decay and gum disease.
Depending on the number of teeth missing, there are various remedies. The condition of the remaining teeth can also figure into the most effective way to close the gap. There are three main ways to replace missing teeth.
You could have a partial denture, also called a removeable false tooth. A plate with one or more false teeth on it that has clips or clasps to help keep the denture in place in the mouth. You can unhook the clasps to remove the tooth for cleaning. Partial dentures can be made from plastic or a combination of cobalt and chromium alloy covered by a gum-colored plastic to look like natural teeth. Dr. Thomas can help you determine the best one for you.
A fixed bridge is made by placing crowns on teeth on either side of the gap plus a false tooth to fill the gap. The bridge is made in the laboratory then cemented into place with special adhesives. You need to have strong teeth to wear a fixed bridge and it is not removeable unless a dentist removes it. In the case of a cavity in one of the capped teeth, the bridge would have to be removed to treat the cavity, then replaced. Bridges are made of porcelain or porcelain bonded to metal.
An implant is when the dentist drills a hole in the jawbone and inserts a titanium screw permanently into the jaw. The screw acts as the false tooth “root” and keeps it permanently in place without affecting nearby teeth. The new tooth is attached to the screw. Periodic checkups by your dentist for cleaning are required to maintain the implant.