Replacing Missing Teeth? Understand Your Options First!

14 July 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


Missing teeth can cause problems for a variety of reasons, from hissy speech and difficulty chewing to an unattractive change in your appearance. If you don't like the idea of living on soft foods and avoiding social occasions, then it's time to think about replacing those teeth -- but with what? Here are some options to ponder.

Removable Dental Bridge

A dental bridge is one or more artificial teeth that are affixed to healthy surrounding teeth. This fixation can be either removable or permanent. If you like the idea of taking your bridge out from time to time, you might prefer having a removable bridge. This type of bridge uses clasps to grab on the surrounding teeth just strongly enough not to come loose too easily. When you want to remove the bridge, simply work the clasps free of the teeth. This can be a very useful ability if you want to make cleaning your bridge as easy as possible. Removable bridges are also relatively affordable and easy to repair.

While removable bridges usually do a pretty good job of remaining in place, you may find that they slip just enough to make your nervous when you're chatting or eating in public. If you lead a busy social life, you might want to invest in a permanent bridge instead.

Permanent Dental Bridge

A permanent dental bridge can lessen any worries about your artificial teeth detaching from your mouth at a critical moment. This type of bridge affixes the false tooth or teeth to one or two surrounding teeth permanently. In most cases, the tooth supporting the bridge (known as the abutment tooth) is shaved down to prepare it for a crown. The false tooth and the crown are a one-piece design, mending the gap in your smile. Sometimes the false tooth can be cemented directly onto a neighboring healthy tooth without the need for a crown.

Permanent bridges cost more than removable bridges, mainly because the dental work you have to undergo is more extensive. You must also be careful to brush and floss them properly -- which includes cleaning the gum tissue underneath the bridge. A water-jet tool can be helpful for cleaning this area.

Dental Implants

Dental implants may serve either as an alternative to a single-tooth bridge or as a fixed base for a permanent multi-tooth bridge. This type of tooth replacement requires surgery, but it can provide you with artificial teeth that look and work just as well as their natural predecessors. A titanium post is implanted into your jaw, where it fuses with the surrounding bone to create a "root" for a permanent crown. This frees you from having to crown the adjacent teeth or worry about clasps coming loose. If you have multiple implants installed, you can actually fix a permanent bridge to them -- and the implants will even help prevent further bone loss in the jaw.

Be aware that dental implants can take a long time to complete, at least compared to conventional bridges or dentures. In addition to the healing time following the implant surgery, which enables the bones to fuse with the "roots" securely, you might also need a bone graft before anything else, especially if you've lost bone density after several years without teeth. The upfront cost may also give you pause, although it's worth noting that implants last much longer than other dental prosthetics, giving lots of value for the money.

Whether you decide on a removable bridge, permanent bridge, or some form of implant, it pays to consider your options carefully before choosing a tooth replacement method. Talk to your dentist about all the pros and cons so you can make the best decision for your individual needs and preferences. You can also visit for more information.