If you're missing one or more teeth or expect to lose a tooth in the near future due to gum disease, you'll want to consider tooth replacement options. Besides improving your appearance, all you teeth work together to help you chew, speak, and smile. When teeth are missing, it is more difficult to do these things. Even the loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to shift and your face to look older. Fortunately, missing teeth can be replaced. Depending on your needs, your dentist may suggest one of these three options:
- Dental Implant- A dental implant is much like a natural tooth in that the dental implant also has a root in your jawbone, topped by a crown that you can see. Implants may decrease or help to prevent jawbone shrinkage from tooth loss and do not affect adjacent teeth. Dental implants can also be used to anchor dentures.
- Fixed Bridge- Another alternative for missing teeth is a fixed bridge (sometimes called a fixed partial denture). A fixed bridge, like the name implies, bridges or spans the space where one or more teeth have been lost. A fixed bridge is bonded or cemented into place and only a dentist can remove it. Fixed bridges look, feel, and function like natural teeth. However, fixed ridges affect the adjoining natural teeth and are likely to be more expensive than removable bridges.
- Removable Bridge- A removable bridge (sometimes called a removable partial denture) can readily be taken out of the mouth for cleaning. Although removable bridges generally are less expensive and easier to repair, fixed bridges may feel more stable and comfortable.