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Replacing a Missing Tooth

While every effort is made to keep your teeth in your mouth for as long as possible, there are sometimes reasons why a tooth must be extracted. Whether it’s an infection, an injury, or a cracked tooth, it can be worrisome to patients to learn that they need to have a tooth pulled. In some cases, a patient might need to have all or most of their teeth extracted for various reasons. The good news is that there are several options when it comes to replacing a missing tooth.

Dental Implants

One good option for those who have sufficient bone is to have a dental implant placed to replace the missing tooth. An implant consists of a metal rod that is implanted in the bone of the jaw. After some time, a crown is placed over the rod. This gives you a “tooth” that functions exactly the same as a natural tooth.

Dental Bridge

If you are missing a tooth that’s in between two strong teeth, a dental bridge might be an option. You would have crowns on the two adjacent teeth, with an additional crown fused between the two. This crown sits slightly above your gumline, creating a bridge that is not anchored to the bone. A bridge is a permanent appliance that stays in your mouth as long as you have the teeth that are holding the crowns on either side of the missing tooth.

Partial or Full Denture

Dentures, which are sometimes called “false teeth” can have a bad rap, but the materials used nowadays are a big improvement over those used a few decades ago. Dentures can be full, meaning that they replace all of the teeth, or partial, meaning that they replace only some of the teeth.

Some dentures can also snap into dental implants. This might be a good option if you have sufficient bone to support one or more dental implants but not enough to support an entire jaw’s worth of implants. This is also a much less costly option than having all of your missing teeth replaced with implants if you have more than a few.

It is important to have a missing tooth replaced if possible. One reason is that it will improve your ability to chew and, depending on where the tooth is, speak. Also, if you leave an empty space and you have a tooth above or below it, that tooth can begin to super-erupt, or grow out more, because it doesn’t have an opposing tooth to keep it from doing so.

Talk to your dentist about how you can best replace your missing tooth. He or she will know your specific situation and will be able to advise you best.

Creative Commons image by nikoretro.