May 16, 2024

The 3 Best Options for Replacing Missing Teeth

Losing a tooth is not a pleasant experience, and a missing tooth will not only change the appearance of your smile but it can impact your tooth alignment along with a number of other issues as well. Whether you’re missing a tooth due to gum disease, injury, a genetic condition, or severe tooth decay, we understand that it will be a priority to have it replaced with the best option available to you. 

According to the American College of Prosthodontists, it is estimated that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and about 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth. This is mostly due to dental decay and diseases such as periodontitis, but dental advancements have opened the door to effective and satisfying ways to amend these issues. Dentures, bridges, and implants will likely be the best solutions for your dental complication, restoring your confidence with a beautiful smile and a renewed set of teeth. From Pearl Street Dental, one of the top dentists in Boulder, CO, here are the three best options for replacing missing teeth. 

The Importance of Replacing Missing Teeth

When someone loses a tooth, they may initially consider just leaving the gap. However, apart from the obvious cosmetic disadvantages that can cause social and psychological issues, there are significant health disadvantages as well. 

In a healthy mouth, teeth are prevented from over-erupting and drifting backward and forwards due to the pressure applied to them by the adjacent and opposing teeth. Unfortunately, when a tooth or multiple teeth are missing, the stabilization of the remaining teeth is affected, causing them to shift and drift into the gap. Furthermore, when a tooth is missing from one jaw, the opposing jaw loses the opposing force when you attempt to bite - this causes immense difficulty when chewing certain types of food. Finally, a missing tooth can also affect your speech by hindering your ability to produce certain sounds that are impossible to disguise or cover-up. 

While it may be enticing to leave the gap in your teeth because you want to save money or be spared going through a dental procedure, we can assure you that the benefits of replacing a tooth far outweigh the downsides of leaving a gap. The following replacement options, including dentures, bridges, and implants, are the three best options available. 

1. Dentures

Perhaps the most common way of replacing missing teeth is to invest in dentures. Dentures have been a staple of dentistry for centuries, and the most advanced iterations in the modern day are able to be made highly aesthetic so that no one can easily tell you are wearing one. Dentures are removable, and they can come in a full set to cover all of your teeth or in a partial variety that covers a single or set few missing teeth. They work by clasping into the surrounding teeth so that they are held in place. 

The advantages of dentures (full and partial) are that they are one of the most affordable options for tooth replacement, are easy to repair and replace, and are easily applied and removed as needed. The downside is that dentures can be uncomfortable, they must be removed and cleaned on a daily basis, they must be removed before bed, and they are not as discrete as other replacement options since the metal clasps can be visible. Finally, there’s a chance they will need to be resized and fitted as you age and your jaw structure changes. 

2. Dental Bridge

A dental bridge is a newer option for tooth replacement, and it is now one of the standards in the dental industry. Dental bridges are one of the best options for aesthetic quality as they look amazing when fitted by an experienced professional. Traditional bridges are composed of one or more artificial teeth placed between dental crowns on each end. They require some shaping of the teeth receiving the crowns to which the bridge is mounted and cemented into place. The entire process is somewhat lengthy, taking at least a few visits to complete. 

The advantages of a dental bridge are that it provides a very realistic look with practically no way of telling that it is an implant, it requires no surgery and is thus less invasive, and it is a more economical option compared to dental implants. The downsides are that the adjacent teeth, even if in perfect condition, need to be filed down to the appropriate size for the crown to fit. The adjoining teeth can be damaged or get an infection if the bridge is poorly fitted, and food particles can slip under the bridge and become difficult to clean which increases the risk of infection.

Similarly to dentures, bridges may need to be resized and refitted as you age and the structure of your jaw changes over time. Also, a traditional bridge may not be a viable option for those who do not have healthy teeth to supply the support on each end. In this case, your dentist may suggest a different type of bridge, such as an implant-supported bridge, or another option altogether.

3. Dental Implant

Dental implants are perhaps the most common form of tooth replacement due to being very reliable with an easy procedure that looks and feels exactly like a real tooth. It is designed to replicate the natural root and crown of your tooth, and it is made from medical-grade titanium which means your body doesn’t recognize it as a foreign object and it can actually become integrated with the bone of your jaw, thus becoming one unit! Finally, a crown is placed on top of the dental implant in order to look exactly like the surrounding teeth. 

Dental implants are certainly the superior option for replacing a missing tooth, primarily due to the fact that it is supported by the strength and structure of the jaw bone. It also looks perfectly natural, and the integrated structure prevents the bone from collapsing and the gum entering resorption. Ultimately, it is the most aesthetically pleasing solution as it maintains the natural shape of your gum line, and it is the most natural for eating, speaking, and cleaning when integrated. 

There is only one major downside for dental implants and that is its cost relative to the other replacement methods. However, this is often amended by dentists who offer various payment options to make the treatment more affordable. 

Tooth Replacement Experts

We understand the hardship of missing a tooth or multiple teeth, but we are also happy to share that there are several solutions available to get you feeling back to normal. Dentures, bridges, and implants can all bring about great health and cosmetic benefits, and the experts at Pearl Street Dental are here to help! If you’re interested in getting one of these tooth replacement options or if you have more questions before getting started, contact Pearl Street Dental.