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DENTAL STUDENT BLOG POST: What Options Do I Have for Missing Teeth?

There’s an option there for everyone.

Maybe you had a cavity that you just never had time to go to the dentist for. Or a tooth that was so broken down that the only option was to pull it out. Regardless of the reason, now there’s a space where your tooth used to be. But why do we need to do something about it?

I. Why Do I Need to Replace my Teeth Anyway?

The most obvious reason is an aesthetic issue: missing teeth just don’t look that great. But another issue that isn’t so obvious is a functional one.

One of the biggest results of losing teeth is that the remaining teeth are at much larger risk of damage and fracture. With a missing tooth, each of the remaining teeth need to bear larger forces. Sometimes this is more than each one can handle, and the risk for a cracked tooth increases accordingly. If the crack runs vertically along the root of the tooth, sometimes the only solution is to take out that tooth as well. But damage to remaining teeth isn’t the only possible issue.

Contrary to popular belief, teeth don’t actually stay still by themselves. The reason why our teeth seem to not shift around is because the other teeth surrounding them keep them in place. But take out a tooth with nothing replacing it, and the teeth next to it may start to tilt or drift into that empty space to compensate. Sometimes, the tooth that is supposed to be biting down on that missing tooth becomes overerupted, or grows into that space. This can lead to issues in the bite that can really complicate further treatment — that means less space for a replacement, and more natural tooth that has to be cut to make room. In other words, the sooner you can fill that space, the fewer issues you’ll run into down the road.

II. What Options Do I Have?

So now that we understand the importance of replacing missing teeth, what are the options we have available? There’s a few that we offer here at ALFIE, and each have their pros and cons.

So now that we understand the importance of replacing missing teeth, what are the options we have available? There’s a few that we offer here at ALFIE, and each have their pros and cons.

Bridges are another option that we offer. Similar to how a crown wraps around a single tooth, a bridge is a single piece consisting of two crowns that have the replacement teeth between them. Unlike partial dentures, a bridge is fixed, so there’s no need to worry about it after it’s been placed. And while partial dentures are made from a hard acrylic, the ceramics we use for our bridges last for a much longer time. Bridges are a great option if you have dental work that also needs to be done on the teeth surrounding your missing tooth. However, it wouldn’t make sense to us to involve other teeth that don’t need any improvement.

If all you need to do is replace that single missing tooth, an implant may be the best solution. While both partial dentures and bridges rely on other surrounding teeth for support, a dental implant is directly placed into bone for maximum support. While not everyone is a proper candidate for implants, we conduct comprehensive X-ray and cone-beam CT scanning to make sure that we stay clear of any vital structures through 3-D analysis. While dental implants are the most costly of the three options presented here, they certainly last the longest of all of them, and can be the best value given how long they can last – we’ve had patients who have had stable implants for nearly 25 years!

The next time you think about replacing a missing tooth, think about what factors are important to you so that we can work together to find the best option to suit your needs.


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