Options for Replacing Missing Teeth

There are many factors that go into the replacing a missing tooth or teeth. How many teeth need to be replaced; does the patient need a fixed or removable solution for the missing teeth; is replacing the missing teeth cosmetic or functional? To replace missing teeth there are three main options a dentist can use based in patient need:

Dental Implants

An implant is a fixed option (does not remove from your mouth) for replacing a missing tooth or multiple teeth. If you are missing just one tooth and you have plenty of bone to support the implant, this would be your best option. An implant still allows you to floss between each tooth individually and does not involve the teeth next to the missing area.

A 3D scan of your jaw will be taken to measure the bone in all directions and the proximity of where the implant will be placed to the adjacent roots, sinuses, nerves and other dental structures. After the implant is placed digitally using the 3D scan, a surgical guide is constructed. The next step is the implant placement. If the tooth has been missing for awhile the implant can usually be placed right away. If the extraction site is new, three to six months of healing is recommended. Following implant placement, a three to four month waiting period usually exists to allow the implant to become stable and solid in the bone. After that waiting period, an impression is taken and your crown is made, allowing you to have a permanent, fixed tooth.

Dental Bridge

A bridge is also a fixed option for replacing a tooth or multiple teeth, however, it also involves the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. This is not a bad thing if you already have large fillings or crowns on the teeth that will be supporting the bridge. If you have virgin teeth (meaning never having a filling or a crown) a bridge may not be your best option. You are taking a one tooth problem (your missing tooth) and making it a three-tooth problem.

If you have been missing the tooth for a while, you can have the bridge prepped and have a temporary put in your mouth the same day. Once the bridge is back from the lab (usually 10-15 business days) your permanent bridge can be cemented or bonded into your mouth. If the extraction site is new, waiting three to four weeks is recommended to allow the tissues to fully heal.

Removable Partial Denture (RPD)

A removable partial denture is not a fixed appliance, meaning you can take it in and out of your mouth. This is a great option if you have many missing teeth, you do not have enough bone for an implant, or you are not able to get a bridge. RPD’s allow you to have increased chewing efficiency, can increase phonetics, and can improve the look of your smile.

RPD’s are made with either all acrylic (most aesthetically pleasing option) or with metal and acrylic (strongest option). How many teeth need to be replaced, where the missing teeth are located, and the desires of the patient will dictate which type of appliance will be used.

Call us here at Floss for a consultation on which option may be best for your needs and dental goals. Then Dr. Holloway can create a custom treatment plan to replace your missing teeth.