I have a tooth that is missing. What are my options for replacing my tooth?
IMPLANTS are considered the gold standard for replacing teeth. An implant is a titanium screw that is placed into the jaw. While it sounds scary, most patients are surprised how easy the appointment and healing is for them. An implant acts as an individual tooth and will stimulate the bone to keep bone loss from happening. After a few months, the implant screw will have integrated into the bone and a prosthetic tooth can be made to fit onto the screw. As its own single tooth, it will feel and look more natural and is easier to floss and maintain compared to some of the other options for replacing teeth.
AN IMPLANT SUPPORTED BRIDGE is another implant treatment that can be used when there is more then one missing tooth. A bridge is like a crown but instead of a single prosthetic tooth, it has multiple prosthetic teeth fused together (this means you cannot floss between the teeth in the bridge). Each end of the bridge will be supported by an implant, and because implants are very strong you can replace more missing teeth than with a tooth-supported bridge (as mentioned below).
TOOTH SUPPORTED BRIDGE is made by preparing the neighboring teeth on either side of the missing space to be fitted for dental crowns. When the lab creates the bridge they place a few prosthetic teeth in the missing space so that it appears there is no missing tooth. While bridges are esthetically pleasing and good for restoring function, the downfall is that they can be difficult to clean. The bridge is one piece spanning three or more teeth so you cannot floss between them and will need to use a Waterpik or floss threader to guide your floss underneath the bridge so you can keep it clean. Good maintenance and oral hygiene is key to longevity of the bridge. Any decay on the supporting teeth will compromise the bridge and will require the whole bridge to be replaced.
FLIPPER: You can have a one tooth denture made more commonly known as a flipper to replace a single tooth. This is usually a short-term fix and used mostly for temporary esthetic reasons such as replacing front teeth while deciding on the best course of treatment. They are quick to make and not that expensive which makes them good temporary solutions. However, flippers are small and are easy to lose, and they are not always the most comfortable options because they will rest on the gums and surrounding teeth.
A REMOVABLE PARTIAL DENTURE is a custom made resin or metal base that has prosthetic teeth to replace multiple missing teeth. The removable partial denture is designed around your remaining teeth and soft tissue which is why a thorough dental examination is important to determine whether any dental work is required before getting fitted for your denture. The denture gives the appearance of a full smile and prevents the remaining teeth from shifting into any gaps left by the missing teeth. This is a less invasive procedure that does not require surgery and typically has a lower cost than bridges/implants. If additional teeth are required in the future the denture can easily be modified. They require an adjustment period as they can be uncomfortable at first, but most patients have no issues adapting. Dentures will need to be adjusted or remade over time due to the remodeling of bone levels causing the denture to become loose.
Your last option is to DO NOTHING. If you are comfortable with doing nothing that is a choice as well. However, there are some things you should know about leaving the area alone. When you have missing teeth over time you will experience bone loss in that area. This can cause the face to look sunken or lose definition depending on where the missing tooth is. As well the neighboring teeth may tip towards the empty space. You could also experience some alterations in your speech and chewing function. Many people find they have a loss of confidence if they have teeth missing because your smile is the first thing people see when you meet them.
If you are interested in discussing any of these options for restoring your missing tooth, you can give us a call. Dr. Samantha Chien will be happy to go over all your options with you and help you make an informed choice about what treatment is best for you. Call Cypress Dental today at 604-366-9360, or click here to request an appointment online.