Ways to replace missing teeth
Posted: Nov 02, 2018
With so many people finding they end up living life with fewer teeth then they would like it seemed appropriate that we write an extended blog post about all of the myriad of ways to replace missing teeth. Modern dental techniques allow some of the most comfortable, affordable and readily available ways to replace missing teeth in a timely fashion.
Firstly, let's look at why you should replace missing teeth.
Why replace missing teeth?
When a tooth is lost it leaves a socket in the bone. Contrary to popular belief this socket does not fill up, rather, the surrounding bone collapses in to the hole to replace the tooth which has been lost. If you have ever seen the roots of the tooth you will know they can be quite large, this means so can the whole!
The result of this collapsing in of the bone means you lose bone volume in this area. As bone volume reduces so does the volume of soft tissue or gum in the same area. This can then have a cosmetic effect on the surrounding teeth and the adjacent teeth can begin to look longer than they did before.
Teeth which look longer have a tendency to look older, hence the phrase long in the tooth.
Another problem when teeth lost is that the fine balance of pressures in the mouth is compromised. Amazingly, your teeth are in very fine balance with one another, each tooth rests against the next tooth in line and hold it in place. There is also what is known as the neutral zone, this is the neutral zone of pressure between your cheeks pushing in and your tongue pushing out. If any of these pressures are altered then the teeth have a tendency to move.
This is also true for teeth which oppose each other. Teeth on the top teeth the teeth on the bottom in place and vice versa.
Bearing all of this in mind it's quite easy to see that if the truth is lost this harmonious balance can be upset and teeth can start to drift.
The result is that adjacent teeth of the gap have a tendency to tip into the space and opposing teeth on either the top or bottom jaw can begin to over erupt. In time this can affect your bite which may result in jaw joint problems in the long run.
Along with the cosmetic implications of having a missing tooth it genuinely is a good idea to replace missing teeth as soon as possible after they have been lost.
Ways to replace missing teeth.
There are principally three ways to replace the missing tooth.
- Dental implants
- dental bridges
Dental implants are often the preferred option for many dentists. They are less invasive on the surrounding teeth as drilling adjacent teeth is not required as it is with the dental bridge.
Dental implants also have the huge benefit of filling in the hole where the missing tooth has been removed. The dental implant sits gently into the bone and can support it. This means if a dental implant is placed soon after a tooth is lost then you can help prevent the bone resorption and maintain a healthy cosmetic appearance.
Dental bridges are one of the more classic ways to replace missing teeth. A typical dental bridge to replace a single missing tooth would require the adjacent teeth either side of the gap to be trimmed down or prepared, ready to receive the support of the new missing tooth replacement. Unfortunately, this involves possibly removing otherwise healthy tooth structure from the adjacent teeth in order to support this new tooth, known as the Pontic.
When it comes to cost, replacing a single missing tooth usually involves both teeth either side meaning there are actually three new teeth in the dental bridge. Having is manufactured by the dental laboratory as three teeth rather than a single tooth (as would happen with a dental implant) can often mean that a dental bridge costs the same as a dental implant.
Most people dislike the idea of dentures however modern dentures can be extremely aesthetic and can last for many years. They do however need a considerable amount of maintenance to ensure they continue to fit as well as they did when they are initially placed. Many people also dislike the idea of taking teeth out at night meaning dentures are often not the most preferred option.
The cost of replacing missing teeth.
Many people look at the cost of dentistry generally in the UK and consider it to be very high, indeed this may be true. However what is important to bear in mind is that overall cost and value of the treatment for the lifetime of that treatment. Compare dentistry to buying a car. We may purchase a car for £5000, we don't use that car every day and that car is likely to be replaced in only a few years. If that same £5000 is spent on dentistry the investment is used 24/7/365, always working, always being used, always be seen. Modern dental treatment can also last 20+ years… Could your car with that same monetary investment last the same amount of time?
Of course, not everyone has thousands of pounds to spend lying around, this is why many dental practices now also offer finance options and finance plans. Always speak to your dentist and let them know if you would like to discuss finance plans, these can often start from £.30 per day and can make a really affordable way to replace missing teeth.
Freely sharing dentistry information for patients The information provided in any answer is generic and does not take into account the physical state, medical status and/or health requirements of any particular individual, which are relevant.