Luckily, in this day and age, more and more people can keep their natural teeth due to the research behind proper home care and more advanced dental treatment in professional settings. Prevention plays a significant role in the health of teeth and gums, and seeing your dentist and dental hygienist regularly is vital to maintaining good health. Teeth may be lost for a variety of reasons including gum disease, cavities, infection and trauma.
Benefits of Replacing Missing Teeth
Replacing missing teeth is essential for oral and psychological health. If a tooth or teeth are not replaced after behind lost, the bone will begin to atrophy away in the area. This can cause changes to the position of adjacent teeth. Neighbouring teeth may start to drift into the open space, and opposing teeth may begin to over erupt due to lack of occluding tooth. Also, when the bone atrophies, there are limitations on what treatment can be done to replace the tooth/teeth. For instance, implants require adequate bone support, so often if space has been left for some time with no tooth, a bone graft may have to be completed before the implant can be placed. Function is a considerable concern with missing teeth, chewing may become more difficult, and as a result, there may be insufficient nutrition. Missing teeth also contribute to sagging of the cheeks, lips and face, which can change the appearance of a persons face. It is essential to replace a missing tooth/teeth as soon as possible.
Replacement Options For Missing Teeth
There are several viable options for the replacement of a missing tooth or teeth. The best option for appearance, function and longevity is a dental implant.
A dental implant is a titanium screw that gets inserted into the bone where the missing tooth is. A porcelain crown is placed on top of the implant that matches with the colour, shape and size of the surrounding teeth. Implants can also be used in full arch cases to support a fixed denture.
Alternatively, if there is a missing tooth, or even sometimes two missing teeth beside each other, a bridge can be placed to fill the space. A bridge uses the two teeth on either side of the space as support, called abutments, and fills the space with “fake” teeth, called pontics. The disadvantage of a bridge is that the two abutment teeth, which may be healthy, must be sanded down to prepare them for the bridge. A bridge also has a shorter life span than an implant.
Lastly, full or partial dentures are an option for filling spaces. Complete dentures are used when an entire arch of teeth are missing, and partial dentures are used when 1 or a few teeth are missing. The main disadvantage of dentures is that they are removable and can be challenging to get a comfortable fit.