You should consider replacing missing teeth not only for cosmetic reasons, but also for your oral health. Over time, your remaining teeth can move into spaces and change the way your teeth come together when you eat. This can result in the misalignment of your jaw and your remaining teeth may suffer enamel loss, chips and cracks as they grind against each other.
Missing teeth can be replaced with dentures, bridges or implants that are made to match your natural teeth. Here's an overview of each treatment option:
Modern dentures look natural, are a cost-effective option and can be removed for easy cleaning. Your dentist will take impressions of your mouth and send them to a dental laboratory where your dentures will be specially made to fit your mouth.
The plastic frame that supports the porcelain teeth should fit comfortably around your gums, your lips should feel supported and you should be able to speak clearly with properly fitted dentures. Your dentist will assess how your teeth come together when you bite and will check your gums for any signs of rubbing over the course of several months after you get your new dentures.
If you are only missing one or two adjacent teeth, you may wish to consider a dental bridge. Bridges cannot be taken in and out in the way that dentures can; they are secured with dental cement. They are made up of one or two porcelain teeth that are secured between two crowns. A crown looks like a natural tooth and fits over an existing tooth like a cap.
Your bridge will be custom-made in the way that dentures are, but your dentist will also have to file down the enamel on the teeth that the crowns will be fitted over. This ensures the crowns fit well and provides an abrasive surface to apply the dental cement. Your bridge can be cleaned in the same way that you clean your natural teeth.
An implant is a permanent solution that uses a titanium rod to secure a porcelain false tooth. Your dentist will administer a local anaesthetic before screwing the rod into your gum. Within a few months your jawbone should fuse with the rod, and your dentist will x-ray your jaw to ensure the implant is secure.
Implants can only be considered if you have a strong jaw and healthy gums, so your dentist should take preliminary X-rays and a detailed medical history when determining if you are a suitable candidate. Ensure you make your dentist aware if there's a history or osteoporosis in your family or if you have undergone radiotherapy.
The first step to replacing your missing teeth is a full oral health assessment, so make an appointment with a dental clinic such as The Caring Dental Team to discuss the best treatment option for you.