Losing a tooth isn’t only embarrassing, it can severely impact your bite and the health of the rest of your mouth if it isn’t cared for. The empty space where your tooth used to live can cause bone loss in your jaw, and the teeth surrounding that space will move in and shift to fill the gap. This can create difficult spaces in your mouth to clean, resulting in tooth decay, and can also impact your bite when teeth shift out of alignment. Replacing that missing tooth is the healthiest option; the only question is how to have it done.
If you’ve seen hockey players take out a temporary tooth in the front of their mouth, they’re wearing a removable partial denture. These partials are worn during the day and can be used to replace one tooth or several in a row. Depending on your tooth alignment, your partial may include metal clasps that help keep it in place in your mouth. Unfortunately, these clasps are sometimes visible. Partial dentures can also be uncomfortable because they can move when you eat or talk. You should remove a partial denture each night and soak it in a special denture-cleaning liquid. Removable partial dentures can be the most economical method of replacing a missing tooth, and fitting them doesn’t require filing down any surrounding teeth.
Unlike a removable partial, a temporary denture is never meant to be a permanent solution. We use it while the site of the tooth loss heals when we’re planning to use an implant or a bridge to replace the missing tooth. These temporary teeth keep the surrounding ones from moving into the empty gap, ensuring that your teeth will keep their natural alignment. Some people call temporary dentures “flippers” because they’re so easy to flip in and out of your mouth. They’re much less sturdy or bulky than a removable partial denture and cost a lot less. We also don’t alter any of the teeth surrounding the empty space when we make a temporary denture.
When there are two healthy teeth on the sides of the space where the missing tooth used to be, we often recommend a bridge to replace the tooth. A bridge is a replacement tooth that stays cemented in place and is never removed. Fitting a bridge is a more involved procedure. It begins with cutting down the teeth on both sides of the space, which allows them to connect together.
One of the disadvantages of bridges is that we are cutting down otherwise healthy teeth. It’s also possible for a bridge to spring loose on one end or the other since the jaw is slightly flexible while the bridge isn’t. This can allow bacteria to enter, causing decay in the jaw. On the other hand, sometimes the teeth next to the gap need a crown or filling, and this can be combined with the bridge in one session. This will fill the gap and fix the damaged tooth at the same time. Bridges can replace one tooth or a set of them, depending on the strength of the surrounding teeth on either side.
When it’s medically indicated, dental implants can be the ideal way to replace a missing tooth. They’re the most natural looking and feeling solution, being almost identical when brushing, talking or eating. We begin by setting the implant screws into the jaw bone, where they actually grow to become a part of the jaw. After the screw is healed, the abutment and crown are permanently attached, completely replacing the tooth. When putting in an implant, we don’t need to touch any other surrounding teeth. They’re a good solution for one missing tooth or even multiple teeth, and can rarely be distinguished from natural teeth.
When you’re ready to tackle those big dental procedures, only the most skilled Houston prosthodontists will do. Maple Leaf Dental can turn back time, replacing your damaged teeth with artificial ones that even your mother won’t notice. Call us at (281) 497-5558 or email us to get started. Your smile won’t wait forever!
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