Missing a Tooth, No Problem! A Quick Look At Your Options
The first goal of dentistry is to protect and save your natural teeth to ensure a heathy smile. However, there may be times when, due to accident or extensive decay, you will require a tooth extraction. If you do require an extraction, do not worry you are not alone. In fact, 178 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth. So let’s take a look at your options for replacing your missing tooth.
Non-Implant Missing Tooth Replacement Options
Tooth-Supported Fixed Bridge-The most common way to replace a missing tooth in the past has been with a tooth-supported fixed bridge. While a bridge is a great way to replace a tooth cosmetically, it has a number of negative effects on the health of your mouth. The biggest and most important issue is a bridge requires the dentist to damage perfectly healthy teeth in order to support the bridge. This goes against the primary goal of dentistry to protect your natural teeth. Before implants, bridges may have been the best option for replacing a missing tooth, but implants offer a way to protect healthy teeth from unnecessary damage. Another negative affect with a bridge is that it can be harder to keep clean which can lead to further tooth decay. Besides damaging your healthy teeth and potentially leading to greater tooth decay, a bridge also fails to protect you from bone loss which can eventually change the look of you smile and face.
Removable Partial Dentures- A second traditional way to replace a missing tooth is a removable partial denture. An advantage of partial dentures is they do not require the dentist to grind down adjacent healthy teeth. However, they are not nearly as stable or comfortable as dental implants or bridges, and can even affect your speech and make eating more difficult. Also, like a bridge, a partial denture does not protect you from bone loss. Partial dentures may be the least expensive option for replacing a tooth, but they do not look as natural or function as well as a bridge or an implant-supported ceramic crown or a bridge.
Replacing a Missing Tooth with an Implant
A dental implant is the best way to replace a missing tooth. It looks and feels like a traditional tooth. It does not require you to grind and damage healthy teeth. And it unlike any other option, it protects you from bone loss because the implant acts like a natural root of a tooth. Implants also last longer than bridges and crowns. If you want to make your mouth healthy for a lifetime, you need to look into dental implants.