We are in the business of saving teeth. That’s ultimately what we want to do if at all possible. However, there are some cases where that just isn’t an option due to a tooth being severely decayed or broken down. Whenever this is the case, it is important to consider the different options to replace the tooth that had to be extracted to prevent further damage to neighboring teeth. Below, we will discuss the importance of replacing these missing teeth and the different replacement options that are available to you.
Why is it important to replace missing teeth?
- Function: Obviously teeth are made for chewing. If you’re missing several teeth (or even just one sometimes) it can heavily impact your ability to chew your food efficiently. Not only can this lessen the satisfaction you get for chewing your favorite foods, but it can affect digestion as well. It has been shown time and time again, in various clinical studies, that there is a very strong correlation between oral health and overall systemic health. This all starts with the ability to chew food and aid in digestion.
- Esthetics: Another important reason to replace missing teeth is to have that beautiful smile you used to have before you lost that tooth. Whether it’s your front tooth or a tooth in the back, a lot of times it can still be visible when you smile. There are several options discussed below that all look very natural and can restore your smile back to its original beauty.
- Damage to other teeth: When you’re missing a tooth, it not only affects that one tooth, but rather all the teeth surrounding it. If a tooth is extracted and not replaced, it can cause.
- Tipping of neighboring teeth: When the teeth begin to tip into the empty space, it can make it very difficult to replace that tooth later down the road. It can also lead to periodontal (bone) issues with that tooth and the teeth around it.
- Supraeruption of opposing teeth: Supraeruption is the process of the opposing tooth erupting into the empty space that is left by a missing tooth. This can lead to a variety of problems, including periodontal disease, decay on adjacent teeth, food traps, and ultimately losing the tooth.
- Overall shifting of the other teeth in the mouth: The movement of the remaining dentition can cause your bite to be off, esthetic issues, and loss of function.
- No posterior support: Another way that missing teeth can affect the remaining dentition is if there are several back (posterior) teeth missing, it can put too much stress on the front (anterior) teeth which leads to excessive force, wear, and eventually mobility and loss of teeth.
What options are there to replace missing teeth?
- Dental Implants: Dental implants are the newest, most modern treatment option for replacement of missing teeth. A lot of times this is the ideal treatment. They look and function like a normal tooth and unlike a bridge (discussed below) there is no preparation of the neighboring teeth. They can sometimes be placed at the time of extraction. There is an implant body (the “screw”) that goes into the bone and then heals to become stable. Then after a few months of the healing process, called osseointegration, an impression is taken and an abutment and crown is made to fit the implant and your neighboring teeth. Learn more about this process by clicking here or feel free to contact our office at any time!
- Dental Bridges: A bridge is another good choice for replacement of missing teeth, especially when dental implants are not an option. In order to make a bridge, the two teeth neighboring the empty space are prepared for crowns. An impression is taken and a bridge is made which is then cemented onto the prepared teeth. The final bridge will have a fake tooth connecting the two adjacent crowns. Learn more about this process here.
- Removable Partial Dentures: A removable partial denture (RPD) is a good option when there are several missing teeth in one arch and implants and bridges are not a possibility. An RPD is custom made to fit your existing teeth. It is something you will take in and out to clean and when you sleep but is a great way to regain function and esthetics. RPDs are durable, strong, look natural, and can last for years! Learn more about RPDs here.
Feel free to contact our office with any other questions you may have. We would love the opportunity to help you restore your smile to its fully functional, beautiful state!