Throughout life, people can lose their teeth for a variety of reasons including tooth decay, periodontal disease, illness, injury, and age. No matter the reason why you might have missing teeth, you don’t have to continue living with an incomplete smile because modern dentistry and dental prosthetics offer a variety of options for replacing missing teeth to restore your smile.
5 Popular Tooth Replacement Treatment Options
1. Dental Implants
Dental implants consist of three parts:
- An implant anchor is a screw-like device that is implanted directly into the patient’s jawbone to mimic a natural tooth’s root system.
- A dental crown is a custom designed to function just like a natural tooth and also to resemble a natural tooth so that it blends in seamlessly with the surrounding teeth.
- An abutment which is a metal appliance that connects the dental implant anchor to the permanently fixed dental crown.
Dental implants are among the most popular and versatile options for replacing missing teeth. Once placed, they look, feel, and function just like natural teeth. They also provide vital stimulation to the jawbone. Plus, they can be used along with dental crowns to replace missing teeth on a one-for-one basis or to replace multiple missing teeth by supporting a dental bridge, full denture, or partial denture.
2. Full and Partial Dentures
Full and partial dentures can be used to replace multiple teeth or all of a patient’s teeth. Traditional dentures are designed to be worn inside the mouth with a snug, yet comfortable, fit over the patient’s arch of gums on the bottom and over the gums and hard palate to replace the top row of teeth. Traditional dentures are designed to be removed for maintenance and cleaning each night.
3. Implant-Supported Dentures
In addition to traditional dentures, dentures can also be permanently fixed onto strategically placed dental implants (usually four implants per arch of teeth). This option offers patients the ability to replace most or all of their teeth with the ease of a denture but with the comfort, security, and additional benefits of dental implants. As a result, patients do not have to undergo quite as many dental implant placement procedures, but they can still enjoy the jawbone-health benefits and natural feeling of dental implants.
4. Snap-On Dentures
Snap-on dentures are similar to implant-supported dentures and offer similar benefits. They are designed, however, to be more easily removed for maintenance by a dentist or dental prosthetics professional.
5. Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are designed to replace one or more missing teeth that are all in a row. They feature two anchors on either side (or just one side when the missing teeth are located at the end of an arch) and a pontic (i.e. the “bridge”) portion in between. There are several different styles of dental bridges that vary based on the style of the anchors. Some are anchored with caps that fit over natural teeth, others are anchored with wires and dental bonding, and some use dental implants as anchors.
Do You Need to Replace Your Missing Teeth?
For many, choosing to replace teeth that have gone missing is a personal option. People often take into account the location of the missing tooth in the mouth, how visible it is, and how much the missing tooth affects their daily life, appearance, speech, and ability to enjoy all of their favorite foods.
In addition to all of the above-mentioned reasons, there are a couple of practical, health-related reasons for replacing a person’s lost teeth. Firstly, when missing a tooth, the neighboring teeth (the two teeth on either side of the gap and the opposing tooth on the top or bottom arch of teeth) can drift. This can result in uncomfortable bite changes and even put the soft tissues in your mouth at risk as a result of your changing bite pattern.
Secondly, teeth play an important role in the health and strength of the jawbone. Whenever you bite down, your teeth deliver pressure which stimulates the jawbone and triggers the generation of new bone matter. This keeps the jawbone strong and healthy. When you lose a tooth, the jawbone no longer receives the pressure and stimulation it needs to stay healthy. As a result, the jawbone can become weakened over time beneath the gaps where teeth are missing. This can result in further tooth loss and a dramatic change in a person’s bone structure and facial appearance.
How to Know Which Type of Tooth Replacement Is the Right One for You
Each type of tooth replacement option offers different benefits to patients, and the option that’s right for one patient won’t necessarily be the best option for another patient. When it comes to replacing missing teeth, the best treatment option depends on several factors such as the patient’s oral health status, medical history, the number of missing teeth, the location and arrangement of missing teeth, personal preferences, budget, and more.
Our prosthodontist works with each patient individually to help them determine the treatment option that’s right for them based on the above-listed factors in addition to the patient’s treatment goals and expectations.
Smile Restoration Consultations With Our Loveland Prosthodontist
If you’re missing one or more teeth, we encourage you to explore your options for replacing your missing teeth and restoring your smile with our prosthodontist in Loveland. Dr. Andrew Bock and our team at Northern Colorado Prosthetic Dentistry can talk with you about your treatment goals and work with you to restore your smile to its complete form and function while helping you to create the smile aesthetic you desire.
To learn more or schedule a smile restoration consultation, we welcome you to contact Northern Colorado Prosthetic Dentistry today.