Missing Teeth Replacement
Teeth are essential for many reasons, not least of which is to bite and chew. Teeth are also aesthetically important for enhancing one’s smile. Missing teeth can be very embarrassing in social situations, especially if you deal with the public on a daily basis.
Medically, the result of missing teeth is that the teeth on either side of the gap will move in an attempt to close it. This movement could also cause damage to the underlying bone structure. Missing teeth replacement is therefore essential not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also medically.
There are various options to replace missing teeth
Dental implants use a biocompatible metal which is implanted into the jaw to replace the tooth root that has been removed.
The implanted root is allowed to heal and bond with the underlying bone structure.
A post is then cemented to the artificial tooth root.
Once the post has bonded to the root, the replacement crown is then attached to the post, and voila, the missing tooth has been replaced.
Unlike dentures, bridges are permanently fixed in the mouth and cannot be removed.
The replacement teeth, made from acrylic or ceramic, are affixed to the metal bridge.
The bridge is then secured to the teeth on either side of the gap. The teeth on either side of the gap are called abutments, and are used to permanently fix the bridge in your mouth.
The first step in using dentures to replace missing teeth is for the dentist to take a mould of your mouth.
The mould is then sent to a dental technician who will cast the dentures.
While this is being done, your dentist will fix temporary dentures in the gap.
Once the dentures have been cast, the dentist will then fit them to your mouth. This normally requires slight adjustments to the dentures to make sure that they fit correctly.
Dentures are removable and can be used to replace anything from one tooth (partial denture) or a complete set of teeth (full denture)
Although the above mentioned procedures are all used to replace missing teeth; each procedure has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Pros and Cons
Dentures: Dentures have a life expectancy of only 8 years, whereas bridges can last for 15 years. Dentures move when eating or smiling and could cause embarrassment. Dentures can become ill-fitting due to gum shrinkage and changes to your mouth. This can cause damage and resultant pain in your mouth. Eating hard foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables is very difficult with dentures. Dentures are removable and can get lost and broken.
Bridges: Although bridges are permanent fixtures, they can loosen due to bone deterioration and gum shrinkage. Bridge work requires a number of visits to the dentist, as the bone must heal after the root has been extracted and before the bridge can be affixed to the abutment teeth. The abutment teeth must also be shaped to accommodate the bridge and this causes permanent changes to the abutment teeth.
Implants: As with bridge work, implants take a number of visits to the dentist to complete, and a certain amount of surgery is required. Implants are the most expensive of the procedures mentioned, but are the most permanent solution.
There is no longer any need to feel embarrassed by missing teeth. Missing teeth can be replaced and the procedures outlined above give you some idea of the methods used to replace missing teeth.