Having missing teeth can make normal tasks such as eating or speaking difficult, but there are several tooth replacement options available to allow you to restore function and improve the appearance of the mouth. Learn more about what alternatives are available to patients and the potential benefits of each method.
Depending on the situation and how many teeth are missing from the mouth, patients can choose from three methods to achieve a full smile.
A dental implant replaces a missing tooth by placing a titanium screw into the jaw and attaching a porcelain crown that appears and functions similarly to a natural tooth. One of the main benefits of this restorative option is that implants integrate with the jawbone, acting as substitute tooth roots that help stimulate and preserve the bone. While this method is most often used to address issues where only one tooth or a small number of teeth need to be replaced, there is no limit to how many implants a patient can have.
For patients who are missing one tooth or several adjacent teeth, a dental bridge can be used to fill the gap. There are three main types of bridges offered by dentists:
For patients experiencing widespread tooth loss, dentures are one of the most common tooth replacement options. With a partial denture, patients can fill in gaps of missing teeth with a clip-on prosthetic. Full dentures, on the other hand, are a complete set of upper and bottom teeth that suction onto the patient’s gums. Traditionally, the gum-like base is made from acrylic. With flexible dentures, however, nylon or other more comfortable materials are used that often look and feel more like natural gums. Implant-supported dentures use four or more strategically placed implants to secure a full arch of teeth onto the gums.
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Living with one or more missing teeth can have negative effects on a person’s oral health and everyday life. Patients should consider each of these tooth replacement options carefully and discuss the alternatives with a dentist.