You may have lost your teeth because of some accident or just not properly taking care of them. Lucky for you there are plenty of replacement options that are available to you. When deciding on the best of the alternative options be sure to take into consideration how stable, strong and long these options last. Thanks to all the advancements the development of methods to fix problems have increased drastically.

Fixed Bridge

The first option to look at out of the tooth replacement options is a fixed bridge. A fixed bridge can only be done when you’re healthy enough that the surrounding area can support the fake tooth. The fake (prosthetic) tooth is prepared by the adjacent teeth having their enamel removed to create room. This provides a well functioning and accurate prosthetic replacement for the new tooth. This method does have limitations however. The preparation can end up leaving the teeth nearby exposed or at risk of trauma to the nerves. This increases the risk of a root canal and the need for a root canal treatment. Often the fixed bridge treatment between your natural teeth is expected to last between 10 to 12 years. After this time period you will need a replacement. A replacement often entails further treatment to the existing teeth or the surrounding teeth if they begin to develop dental disease. Some of the dental disease includes cavities or bone loss (in the gums).

Dentures

There are two types of dentures, partial and full. Either of these can replace one or several missing teeth in the upper Removable partial or full dentures can replace a single missing tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth in your upper and/or lower jaw. Dentures rely on support by the other teeth in that jaw (for partial dentures) and from mechanical support by the remaining ridge of gum and underlying bone. Maxillary (upper jaw) full dentures also may be helped by suction between the denture and the underlying gum of your palate (roof of mouth). Reasons for replacing a missing tooth (or teeth) vary and should be weighed against the risks of leaving the space, as well as resultant changes that may take place in the rest of your dentition.

Bone Loss

When teeth are removed from the jaw, the bone that supports the teeth tends to shrink over time. This process is called resorption and is a natural consequence of the loss of stimulation to the bone from the forces placed on the teeth. Resorption of the alveolar bone (bone that supports the teeth) begins almost as soon as the tooth is removed and proceeds over time. The bone will lose both height and width from resorption.

When multiple teeth are lost, with or without a prosthesis to replace them, significant loss of jaw bone can take place. This sometimes leads to difficulty wearing a removable denture due to lack of an adequate “ridge” upon which the denture can obtain stability. In the so-called “esthetic zone” of the mouth, where loss of ridge volume can be visibly apparent to the naked eye, this can lead to a cosmetic defect. As the bone resorbs, the gum which covers it also shrinks away, creating a concavity (depression in height and width) that can be unsightly as well as possibly promote food impaction under adjacent teeth.

Drifting

Loss of one or two teeth in a segment of your mouth can lead to drifting of neighboring teeth, whereby the adjacent teeth lean over into the vacant space where the teeth have been lost. Similarly, loss of a tooth or teeth can lead to shifting of opposing teeth as they drift down into the open space (super-erupt).

In general, our teeth have a constant tendency to move both towards the front of our mouths and towards the opposing jaw, unless they are stopped by something in their way, usually the adjacent or opposing teeth. Loss of teeth allows this to proceed in a pathologic way. As teeth drift, they create discrepancies in the height and contours of the gum tissue that predispose adjacent teeth to periodontal disease progression and/or dental decay from accumulation of food and plaque and difficulty in cleaning these areas from “piled-up” gum tissue. Drifting teeth can also adversely affect the occlusion (bite), as well as cosmetics of your face and smile.