Nearly 178 million US adults are missing at least one tooth. There are many options for replacement, it is important to understand your options so you can make the most well-informed decision.
- Single Tooth Implant
If you are missing one tooth, then a single-tooth implant to replace it may be your best option as long as there is enough bone remaining. An implant acts like the root of a tooth and a crown is then placed on top of it. The benefits of an implant are that they look and function like a normal tooth. Unlike a natural tooth, an implant is not susceptible to tooth decay, but it can fail due to periodontal disease. If you are a candidate for an implant, they are easily one of the best choices.
If you are missing one or two teeth, a bridge may be a good option for you. A bridge can be very advantageous if you don’t have enough bone remaining for implants OR if teeth next to those missing require repair as well. The bridge not only replaces a missing tooth but provides crown coverage to those teeth on each side creating a three or four-unit series of crowns soldered together. One downside to a bridge is that because all of the teeth become connected by the bridge unit if one tooth suffers from decay then the whole bridge must be removed and replaced.
- Partial Denture
If you are missing multiple teeth and a bridge is not feasible, a removable partial denture may better suit you. Many people like the ease of removing a partial denture. A benefit is that it can replace teeth without joining teeth together and on each side of the mouth at the same time. A partial denture does rely on the support of remaining teeth so they will need to be stable to insure success.
- Full Arch Denture
If you have severe bone loss and/or are missing many teeth a full denture may be the best option. Although a denture does require bone for support, it may not require as much as implants. Many people find success with a full upper denture, but a full lower denture can be more difficult to get used to. A lower denture can slide around since it doesn’t benefit from the suction mechanism that the upper denture does.
- Multi-Implant Supported Denture, Fixed or Removable
Like the full arch denture, if you are missing many or all of your teeth the implant-supported denture may be a good option. This involves typically placing 4-6 implants per arch that the denture connects to. This helps provide support so the denture doesn’t slide around. Having this security often improves self-esteem for anyone missing teeth. It can also make eating and speaking easier. An implant-supported denture can be either fixed or removable. If it is fixed, your dentist will be able to remove it for periodic cleaning. If it is removable, you will be able to remove, clean, and replace it daily yourself.
There are many options to choose from to suit your tooth replacement needs. Your dentist will be able to provide you with all the information you need to make the best decision for your oral health. If you have questions regarding any of your options do not hesitate to ask!