When teeth are missing or extracted, most people’s next question is what is the best way to replace them? Even one missing tooth can cause a shift in the other teeth throughout the mouth, creating misalignment and an increase in conditions like gingivitis or gum disease. When a tooth on one arch is missing, the tooth on the opposite arch usually begins to erupt farther into the mouth in attempt to find something to occlude against. Replacing missing teeth isn’t just for aesthetic reasons, it’s for function and health of the entire mouth.
Depending on the health of your teeth, bone levels, and the number of missing teeth in your mouth, typical tooth replacement options include:
Dental implants are useful for replacing one or several missing teeth when there are healthy amounts of bone in the mouth. If there is inadequate bone, sometimes a bone graft may be needed. Bridges are used in areas between teeth, when there is only one or few missing teeth. A dental bridge is similar to two crowns on adjacent teeth, with a false crown fused between them, filling in the area of the missing tooth. Dentures are used when all of the teeth in an arch are missing. In some cases minimal-impact dentures that are smaller in size can be used in conjunction with dental implants. These can allow for easier speaking and eating. Partial dentures are used when several teeth are missing, and are removable appliances that are smaller than full dentures.
Deciding on a tooth replacement option that is best for your individual needs can be a difficult choice to make. Your dentist can help you assess your needs and identify the options that are best for you.
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