Even with advances in modern dental care, tooth loss may still occur whether due to disease or injury. However, when a tooth or teeth are lost, you are not doomed to living with gaps in your smile. In fact, you have several options for tooth replacement.
Implants are one of the newer methods of tooth replacement. Usually made of titanium, dental implants are visually indistinguishable from natural teeth. They are surgically inserted into the upper or lower jaw and can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or can act as supports for a larger set of dentures.
As dental implants are anchored into bone, you need to have healthy and adequate bone in order to be a good candidate. Dental implants also need to be cared for, so excellent oral hygiene is a must for implant recipients.
Unlike implants, fixed bridges are not surgically inserted. However, they are cemented or bonded in position and cannot be removed by the patient. These bridges are typically constructed from metal or ceramic. Bridges are a good replacement method for one or more teeth for people who cannot have implants or want a more affordable option.
Fixed bridges require multiple office visits for installation. Surgery is not required and most general dentists offer fixed bridges for their patients.
Removable partial dentures can be used to replace multiple missing teeth. As the name states, this dental appliance is removable for cleaning and sleeping. In this way removable partials function similarly to retainers.
Partials are constructed of plastic and metal and are typically cheaper than fixed bridges. They may require artificial teeth to serve as anchors. All in all, partials can appear very close to natural teeth when properly fitted. Also, they are generally easier and less expensive to repair than fixed bridges.
Full removable dentures are an option if you have lost all or the large majority of your teeth. Dentures are custom made to fit a mould of your mouth. Full dentures are usually bonded to the mouth with an adhesive product and are removed at night for cleaning. You should note that even if you are edentulous, or lacking all of your natural teeth, oral care is still important. Patients without teeth are still susceptible to gum disease and other oral problems.
While some patients are embarrassed about tooth loss, remember that you do have several options for replacement. Speak with your dentist and decide together which choice is right for you. In most cases, thanks to modern dentistry, you can obtain a smile that looks dazzling and completely natural.