Philadelphia Treatment Guide
What it is
Losing one or multiple teeth may cause everything from gap in your smile and shifting teeth to loss of chewing function and an inability to eat a complete diet. The missing tooth can also cause the gum and bone beneath the lost tooth to atrophy or shrink, causing the muscles and skin above to look prematurely aged.
Bridges, dentures and dental implants are standard solutions to tooth loss. Factors that may contribute to the type of replacement you and your dentist chose could include the amount of bone you still have, the number of healthy adjacent teeth available, your overall medical health, your age, and/or your financial capability.
Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, a bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth. The bridge is supported by existing teeth on either side of the lost tooth or teeth and holds a fake tooth or teeth in the middle in the previously empty space. The restoration can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials, and is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support. There are two types of bridges: removable and fixed. A removable bridge can be taken out by the wearer periodically to clean it, while a fixed bridge can only be removed by a dentist.
If you’ve lost all of your natural teeth, complete dentures are sometimes used as a way to replace your missing teeth. There are various types of complete dentures. A conventional full denture is made and placed in the patient’s mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed, which may take several months.
Partial dentures clasp to the remaining teeth to hold them firm, but can be removed by the wearer. This type of removable partial dentures is less complicated to make, and less expensive than fixed bridges and implants.
An immediate complete denture is inserted as soon as the remaining teeth are removed. The dentist takes measurements and makes models of the patient’s jaws during a preliminary visit. With immediate dentures, the denture wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period.
An implant is an artificial tooth root placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone, and the integration of the implant into your jaw helps replacement teeth feel more natural. Candidates for dental implants need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant.