It’s important that missing teeth be replaced as soon as possible. Delays can limit your options and make treatment more difficult. Putting it off too long can lead to other teeth shifting into the empty space and creating even more problems. Modern dentistry provides several different options you can consider for tooth replacement.
Dentures are removable false teeth that are fairly easy for today’s dentists to fabricate. Partial dentures can be made for tooth replacement. They are held in place by a metal or plastic framework designed to fit over adjoining teeth. However, these must be removed for cleaning every night and to allow the gums to “breathe”. You may also find it awkward eating tough or stringy foods with this type of dental solution.
Implants are false teeth permanently affixed to titanium posts that are anchored in the jaw bone. These posts simply replace the natural tooth roots. There are two separate procedures, the first being installation of the posts. The bone heals around the posts, creating a strong bond to support the artificial tooth. The artificial tooth is then prepared and attached to the posts.
While there is a period of healing, you can still eat soft foods during this time, and in the end have a more permanent, natural-feeling solution. This dental procedure is one of the most-reliable, longest-lasting options for tooth replacement.
A bridge is similar to dentures, but more permanent. Natural teeth abutting the missing tooth are contoured to accept a bonded crown. These crowns support the bridge which holds the false tooth. This can be a better alternative, especially if the surrounding teeth have also suffered damage or have large fillings, and may be in danger of cracking. A permanent crown can both strengthen them while simultaneously replacing the missing tooth.
This is the last option for tooth replacement. A flipper is similar to a partial denture, but made of cheaper materials. For this reason, it is often a temporary solution until other treatments can be provided. If you are unable to pay for more expensive treatments, a flipper can be an affordable, fast option for the short term. Filling the gap between teeth can also help prevent movement of the surrounding teeth.
Some of these options are explained more fully by the American Dental Association. The decision on what method to use will depend on many factors and should be discussed with your dentist. But to prevent complications like infection or misalignment, it’s important that a lost tooth be treated promptly.