If you are wondering, “what are my options if I have missing teeth?”, you are not alone. Many adults have had teeth extracted due to severe decay or periodontal disease while scores of others have lost one or more teeth in an accident or because of an injury.
Missing teeth can cause a variety of problems, not the least of which is how an unsightly gap can cause awkwardness or embarrassment and play havoc with your self-confidence, especially when you smile.
However, from the viewpoint of your dental health, an unattractive smile caused by missing teeth is not the most significant problem. If the gap is not filled, the teeth on both sides lose their support and tend to lean in towards the empty space, which can lead to a number of other issues, such as excessive wear, problems with your "bite," and since crooked teeth are harder to keep clean, a greater chance of them decaying.
Additionally, all bone needs stimulation to maintain density, which is why load-bearing exercise is so important. Stimulation to the jawbone is provided by the action of the teeth; therefore, if they are missing, the jaw begins to deteriorate. A shrinking jaw alters the facial structure, causing the person to look older than they are. Last, but certainly not least, missing molars can make chewing a bit of a challenge.
Considering the possible consequences, it is very important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible. Luckily, modern dentistry gives us a number of options depending on how many natural teeth you have lost and the condition of the remaining ones.
The Options to Replace Missing Teeth
Should you have few remaining natural teeth, you can be fitted with a complete set of upper and/or lower teeth, which are custom made to conform to the bony ridges of your jaw. Modern technology has made dentures much more comfortable and far more natural-looking than those your grandparents may have worn. Additionally, on the positive side, they can be taken out and cleaned.
Bridges and Crowns:
As the name suggests, a traditional dental bridge literally bridges the gap left by missing teeth. A crown, which is a tooth-shaped "cap" that partially or completely covers the visible part of the tooth, is made for the teeth on either side of the gap. A pontic, or false tooth, is then anchored to the crowns.
However, if the surrounding teeth are broken or infected, or if they have undergone a root canal, the bridge will have to be secured to an implant embedded in the jaw itself. In which case, they are not removable. These "fixed bridges" not only look and feel very natural but are just as comfortable as your natural teeth. Additionally, fixed bridges are usually much more stable than full dentures, which rely solely on the soft tissues of the mouth for support. If you are wondering, “what are my options if I have missing teeth?” and are interested in a non-surgical solution, this is an excellent option.
Dental implants are permanently fixed in the jaw itself. The implant itself is a post made of titanium, which, when surgically placed into the bone under anesthesia, takes the place of the root of the missing tooth. This implant takes anywhere from two to four months to fuse to the bone, after which a crown is attached to the small part of the implant that protrudes out of the gum. Although the procedure is more complicated than traditional dentures, dental implants have a very high success rate and can last a lifetime. Additionally, after the healing period, they neither look nor feel any different from your natural teeth and rarely have the problems that can accompany conventional dentures.
If you are missing any of your adult teeth, there are several options to replace them. After a thorough and complete examination of your mouth, which will include the health of your remaining natural teeth and the bone density in the area of the missing teeth, we will recommend what kind of replacement would be best suited to your situation. You do not need to wonder, “what are my options if I have missing teeth?” since we can present you with all of the possible solutions in our dental office.
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