Having a missing tooth can cause quite a bit of disruption to your life. It can cause you to feel self-conscious when you talk or smile if the missing tooth is near the front of your mouth. Missing one or several teeth can also make it difficult to eat the foods you love. You can choose from three main tooth replacement options to correct your issue. These options include bridges, dentures, and dental implants. There is a process for each one – and it can seem complicated – but, the complication of living with missing teeth far outweighs any complication that comes with the tooth replacement process.
A dental bridge is a tooth replacement option that can replace one or several teeth. Bridges are designed to sit on top of your gums. They use nearby teeth as anchors to remain in place while you talk, eat, drink, and go about your day. This option only works if you have other healthy teeth nearby that can act as the anchors. In order to determine if a bridge is the best option for you, you need to have a consultation with your dentist. Once your dentist determines that bridges are a good option, he or she will design and fit you for your bridge. It is not a complicated process but may take some time.
A full set of dentures are designed to replace all of the teeth in your mouth. If you are missing all or most of your teeth, a bridge will not be an option because you do not have teeth that can act as anchors. Dentures do not require anchors and can work in most situations. Your prosthodontist will do a thorough examination of your mouth, gums, jaw, and facial structure to determine if you are a candidate for dentures. Then, she will design and fit the dentures so they look natural and function properly. This can be a complicated process but prosthodontists are highly trained to work with dentures and will be able to provide you with quick and high-quality results.
Dental implants are a permanent tooth replacement option. The implant is placed into the bone of your jaw and the two eventually fuse together to create a strong and stable tooth replacement option. There are several factors that impact whether you are a good candidate for dental implants. Your prosthodontist will have to thoroughly examine the condition of your gums and jaw to determine if you can receive dental implants. This tooth replacement option is the most complicated of the choices mentioned here but it is also the most permanent.
Tooth replacement can be a complicated task but it can have a big impact on your quality of life. The time and effort you spend exploring tooth replacement options will be worth it when you can talk, laugh, and eat comfortably once again.
Julie C Berger, DDS, MA, FACP is a local Gettysburg dentist and a board certified prosthodontist specialist. She is a former full time instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.