Missing teeth can cause changes in speech, appearance and eating. When teeth are missing the adjacent teeth will tip and become overloaded. The remaining teeth are more vulnerable to fracturing and losing supporting bone.
There is more than one way to skin a cat, and replacing teeth is no different. Every patient with missing teeth is different and various factors are considered to determine the best options to treat. The options include:
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root which is composed of titanium. The titanium has its surface treated so it can integrate with the jaw bone. On top of this titanium root a crown, usually made of porcelain, is placed. Dental implants have a very high success rate (over 95% over 20 years for non-smokers).
Dental implants can be used to restore single teeth but can also be used when several or all teeth in an arch are missing to support bridges or dentures. It is amazing now how in dentistry we can utilise implants to prevent movement and rubbing of partial or full dentures which is a very common complaint from denture wearers.
Before implants are placed you will see an implant specialist to take a cone-beam CT scan to ensure there is sufficient bone to support implant. The specialist will then place the implant(s) and place a healing cap on top at the gum level. The implant(s) are left for 3-6 months to allow proper integration with the jaw bone. During this time temporary treatment can be carried out to replace the missing tooth/teeth. 3-6 months later, moulds are taken by the dentist and the final restorations are placed.
A bridge is a viable option when there is a gap in your mouth and is usually carried out when teeth adjacent to the gap require crowns or when dental implants are not an option.
The procedure involves preparing teeth adjacent to the gap for crowns which will then support the missing tooth/teeth and it is a fixed option which means the bridge is cemented on and cannot be removed by the patient.
Once the teeth are prepared for crowns, a dental mould is taken and a dental technician will make the custom fitting bridge. During this time you will have a temporary bridge placed. The final bridge is then cemented on and is made with porcelain or combination of metal-porcelain.
Dentures utilise acrylic teeth to replace missing teeth (ranging from one to all teeth in an arch). It is generally a removable option, meaning patients can take the denture in an out at will.
There are different types of partial dentures which each have their own advantages and disadvantages but an increasingly popular type are Valplast dentures which can give a very aesthetic result. This is because a flexible pink acrylic is used which gives a good match to your natural gums and unsightly metal does not have to be involved.