With nearly 178 million US adults missing at least one tooth and many options for replacement, it’s important to know all of your options so you can make the most well-informed decision.
• Single Tooth Implant
If you are missing a single tooth, then a single tooth implant to replace it may be your best option if 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, although it can fail due to periodontal disease. Implants are so successful, they have changed dentistry. A single tooth implant, with a final crown looks very similar to a natural tooth above the gumline.
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 adjacent to those missing are in need of repair as well.
The bridge not only replaces a missing tooth but provides crown coverage and is supported by the teeth nearby creating a three- or four-unit permanent prosthesis. 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.
A partial denture usually relies on the support of the remaining teeth so they will need to be healthy in order to support it. A partial denture can easily replace multiple missing teeth.
• Full Arch Denture
If you have severe bone loss and/or are missing most or all of your 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. This is because a lower denture 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 most or all of your teeth, an implant supported denture is a great option. This involves typically placing 4-6 implants that the denture connects to. This helps provide support so that the denture doesn’t slide around or fall out.
Having this security often provides improved 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.
Whatever your tooth replacement needs are, there are many options to choose from. 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 please do not hesitate to ask!
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