Mind the Gap! Your Options for Replacing a Missing Tooth
There comes a time in almost everyone’s life where a tooth goes missing. Tooth decay and gum disease are the most common culprits for sure, but let’s not count out the occasional wipeout from over-confidence in athletic prowess.
Whatever the case, there’s no need to struggle with being self-conscious about a missing tooth gap. You have options to restore your smile! For most gaps from missing teeth, you have four main choices: ignore the problem, replace it with a partial, get a bridge, or go for implants.
Option 1: Ignore it
Hey, no judgment. Sometimes, it’s just easier to ignore something if it isn’t causing you pain or a change to your smile. But look, when it comes to your oral health, a lot of issues like gum disease or bone loss happen right under your nose. This is why ignoring a missing tooth can be surprisingly dangerous, even if it is a molar.
The empty area where your tooth used to be is now a prime spot for food and bacteria to collect, leading to decay in the surrounding teeth, gum disease, and potentially bone loss. This freed-up space can also cause your teeth to shift and even become unstable.
If the tooth is closer to the front of your mouth, like a lost incisor or canine, ignoring it can also cause untold damage to your self-esteem. No one should feel embarrassed or ashamed while smiling, laughing, or speaking. There are cosmetic dentistry options available for a wide range of budgets.
The dentists at Keith and Associates are happy to help you navigate your options. Together, we can come up with a plan to restore your smile and protect your oral health.
Option 2: Replace It with a Partial Denture
A removable partial denture is an affordable way to replace a missing tooth anywhere in your mouth. These tooth replacements are designed to attach to your mouth using metal clasps and should be removed at night for soaking.
These appliances can complete a smile by replacing one or more missing teeth, but they have a few disadvantages. Since they aren’t permanently fixed, these dentures tend to shift and move while speaking or eating—in fact, you’ll only regain about 30% of your bite force back. This means that while your smile will look complete, you’ll have to be careful about the types of food you eat.
Another con is on the cosmetic side. The clasps that hold these dentures in place can often be seen when you smile, which may make some wearers feel self-conscious.
Option 3: Get a Bridge
A dental bridge restores a lot of your biting function and looks natural. Before implants came onto the scene, bridges were the gold standard for smile and bite restoration.
Basically, a dental bridge involves cutting down the teeth on both sides of the missing tooth and placing a crown on them. Then, the replacement tooth (or teeth, as this process can handle two and sometimes more teeth provided there is good structural support) is placed between the crowns and relies on the crowned teeth for structural support.
In general, bridges are a reliable option for teeth restoration, but they have some limitations.
If your missing teeth are in the front of your mouth in the smile zone, this area has the most flexible options for bridges. If your rear teeth are missing, a traditional bridge can close the gap, but you will need to be cautious of crunchy and sticky foods that can damage your restoration.
For many patients, bridges are a reliable option for tooth restoration, and they can be put in place in only a few weeks.
Option 4: Go for an Implant
If you want to restore your biting function and have teeth that look natural and are easy to maintain, implants are the way to go. Whether you’re missing a single tooth or have very few teeth left, there are implant options, like All-On-4, available to restore teeth in any area of your mouth.
Unlike dentures or partial dentures, after a dental implant heals, you can eat all your favorite foods, and your smile will look completely natural. In addition, while the other methods on this list require cleaning your replacement teeth either through removal and soaking or meticulous cleaning using special floss, an implant can be maintained much like your natural teeth with proper brushing and regular dental cleanings.
If you’re missing a tooth, the dentists at Keith and Associates are experts at restoring smiles. Our office specializes in general and cosmetic dentistry, with in-house doctors specializing in bridges, partial dentures, and implants.
If you’re ready to take the next step towards smile restoration, we’re here to help. Our team of caring experts can help you understand your options and develop a plan to restore your oral health and smile. Call us at 913-384-0044 or schedule a consultation online to get started.