What do I do if I lost one or more teeth?

Losing a tooth is not only uncomfortable, but it’s embarrassing and a huge blow to the self-esteem. No matter how old one is, one is never prepared for the loss of a tooth! If you’re suffering from tooth loss, I understand your pain, but I am here to tell you that you are never beyond hope, and that there is always a solution.

Aside from not replacing your tooth (which, in my mind, is never an option), you have three options for tooth replacement:

1.     Removable partial denture

2.     Fixed bridge

3.     Dental implants

What I recommend – and ultimately, what you choose – will depend on cost, time, longevity, comfort, looks, convenience and the effects of the treatment on the adjacent teeth as well as the rest of your mouth.

Removable Partial Denture

A removable partial denture is essentially replacement “teeth” attached to a gum-colored plastic base. This base is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth by snapping on to the surrounding teeth. Because the removable partial denture needs the support of natural teeth on both sides, it can only work if there are remaining natural teeth on either side of the gap.

Removable partial dentures are great because they pop out just like regular dentures, which makes cleaning them very easy. Another upside is that you can replace more than one tooth with this solution—and a lot more quickly than with other replacement options.

On the other hand, removable partial dentures don’t ever look as natural as implants do, and people who’ve had them complain that they’re “uncomfortable” and “unnatural feeling.” In addition, the metal wire that attach to your remaining teeth are visible. However, I would have to say that the biggest downfall to the removable partial denture is that, like dentures, they don’t last forever. Eventually, you will have to have the set replaced.

Fixed Bridge

A fixed bridge adheres to the same concept as a removable partial denture, except instead of being removable, it remains fixed in the mouth. Hence, the name. In place of the metal wires, the fixed bridge uses crowns, cemented to the teeth on either side of the gap, to hold the artificial bridge of teeth in place.

The fixed bridge works a lot better than the removable partial denture because it keeps the teeth from moving into the space provided by the gap. It’s also a lot more natural looking, as it doesn’t utilize any wires, much less wires that are visible.

The fixed bridge is a favorite of patients who have lost a single tooth because it’s a quick and relatively common way to replace a missing tooth. And, again, it looks a lot more natural than a removable partial.

However, as a dentist, I’m hesitant to do this procedure, as it requires me to grind down the neighboring healthy teeth in order to support the cemented bridge. Furthermore, once the bridge is cemented into place, the gums around the bridge can start to recede, causing the bone that’s holding the tooth in place to be reabsorbed by the body and, therefore, ultimately causing the bridge to fail.

But that’s not all—the glue that holds the fixed bridge in place can wear out over time, allowing for bacteria to enter and hide beneath the bridge, in your gums. This will increase your chance for tooth decay and cavities.

Yes, the fixed bridge is most definitely a common and trusted way to replace a missing tooth, but as a dentist, it’s not my favorite. The long-term problems that come with them can lead to much more serious issues down the road that you most likely won’t want to deal with.

If you’re good about keeping your teeth clean and about visiting the dentist regularly (and with a fixed bridge, you’ll need to visit much more regularly), then a fixed bridge may work for you. But if you want an option that requires relatively little maintenance, I wouldn’t suggest it.

Dental Implants

Here at Dr. William J. Holevas, DDS, we believe that longevity should be a patient’s number one priority. After all, when you have a solution that lasts, you won’t have to invest any more time or money in the future to replacing the replacement. Dental implants are that permanent solution.

While the crown will need to be replaced within ten to fifteen years, and the removable bridge or denture will become loose or unstable, the implant will remain strong, sturdy and stable for a lifetime. However, it does not come without a few risks…

Yes, dental implants do require surgery, which can create some discomfort for the patient. However, that discomfort is usually gone in a day or two, and the results are well worth it. With dental implants—if they’re well taken care of—you are almost guaranteed no discomfort in the future. Furthermore, the implants will look just like your natural teeth, will perform like your natural teeth and are easily taken care of—just like your natural teeth. Implants don’t require special care like dentures, partial dentures and fixed bridges do, and even without the special care, they’ll remain as white 10-15 years down the road as the day you got them.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you…

Sometimes time, cost and fear become an issue for patients. I don’t want you to be held back by anything, much less factors that we can work with. If you’re feeling constrained by time, strapped for cash or held back by fear, talk to us. We will work with you, and find the solution that works best with your circumstances.

Whether you’ve lost one tooth or several teeth, you can smile again – laugh again – and chew again without pain, discomfort or embarrassment. Visit our Cosmetic Dentistry at https://dentalpassions.com/cosmetic-dentistry/ or give us a call at 847-742-4214 for your consultation today!