Missing teeth are extremely common. In fact, studies show that most U.S. adults will lose at least one permanent tooth by the time they reach 35 years of age, and currently, more than 36 million people in the United States do not have any teeth whatsoever. Having them extracted, from decay, trauma and severe infection are a few reasons why you may lose your teeth. Depending on where the gaps are and how many you have, they could be making it tricky to bite and chew your food and even affecting the way in which you pronounce certain words. You may also feel self-conscious about the way that your teeth look and do all that you can to try and avoid showing them to those around you.
Fortunately, there are a variety of different treatment options available. This mean that you can have your missing teeth replaced with lifelike alternatives. Here’s what you need to know about the dental options available for replacing missing teeth.
Dental implants are one of the newest and arguably most effective ways of replacing missing teeth. They have a unique design that uses an artificial root in the form of a titanium post – something which is unlike any other solution. This is surgically implanted into the jawbone and left for the bone to heal around it. This process will secure the implanted post permanently into the structure of the face. This post protrudes through the gum so that the visible part of the restoration can be attached to it. This is a custom-designed porcelain crown that is the appropriate shape, size and color to look completely natural.
There are a range of benefits associated with dental implants. These include:
Superior strength and durability
Patients can eat what they like as their dental implant is completely secure
The implant will stay still even when you bite, chew, laugh, sneeze etc
Implants are easy to take care of and can be brushed and flossed around just like regular teeth
The implanted post will stimulate your jawbone to remain strong and healthy which will help you to retain your face shape
Dental implants look and feel the most natural of any tooth loss solution
The technique can be used to replace single or multiple missing teeth with the number of implant posts changing based on how many teeth you need to have restored
Although the process to get dental implants is invasive and requires multiple appointments, usually based over the course of several months, the vast majority of patients and experts agree that they are the superior tooth replacement option and represent a very worthwhile investment in the function and appearance of your smile.
Bridges have been long been used as one of the primary methods of replacing several missing teeth. Their design is fairly simple. An artificial tooth, called a pontic, is designed and created based on your individual needs. Attached to each side of this pontic (or one side in the case of some bridges) are crowns. These are known as abutments and are placed over the natural teeth that fall on either side of the gap in your smile to support the structure of the bridge. This is instead of using an artificial root to secure the prosthetic tooth.
Like dental implants, bridges can be made so that they closely resemble your natural teeth and they are effective at filling the gap in your smile. However, there are a number of issues to consider before opting for this type of solution.
Bridges rely on healthy, neighboring teeth to support them. If you don’t have healthy neighboring teeth, you may not be able to have a bridge. Equally, the pressure that a bridge places on your healthy teeth could lead to them becoming damaged over time.
You may have to avoid sticky or chewy foods as they could damage your bridge or pull it loose.
Bridges are not as secure as dental implants.
Bridges also don’t last as long as dental implants do. While a dental implant could last 20 years or more, most people who choose a bridge require maintenance or replacement within 7-10 years.
Dentures have been used to replace missing teeth for centuries and can restore either a partial or full arch. Their design is different to bridges in that artificial teeth are created and placed into a mold that is designed to sit over the top of your gums. This mold is then secured using adhesive. Although the entire structure is bespoke, many patients find that the adhesive isn’t as effective at holding the mold in place as they would like, and this can mean that they slip and move around. Other considerations to make about dentures include:
Like with a bridge, you may need to be careful about what you eat.
Your denture will need to be removed at night to be cleaned carefully.
You will need to take care of your gums as well as your dentures.
Over time, the bone in your jaw could deteriorate as there is nothing to stimulate it. This could mean that the shape of your jaw changes and you may need new dentures to ensure that they continue to fit.
Dentures can rub and be uncomfortable, causing sore gums.
Dentures are fairly fragile and may need regular maintenance and replacements are usually needed every 8-10 years.
If you would like more information on the dental options for replacing missing teeth, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert dental team at Clarity Dental Center in Federal Way, WA.