Do you know that a missing tooth isn’t simply a cosmetic problem? A missing tooth can create stress on the surrounding teeth, leading to teeth tilting and moving out of place. The opposing tooth from the upper jaw may also lengthen in response to a missing tooth on the lower jaw! This can cause your teeth to look crooked and your smile to become misaligned. If you have more than one missing tooth, you can also suffer from a collapsed bite, making your face look shorter as the distance between your nose and chin decreases.
Your quality of life can be adversely affected by a missing tooth. Crooked teeth make brushing and flossing tricky, making it tough to maintain good dental hygiene. You may also have to avoid certain foods because of difficulty with chewing, leading to a reduced variety of food choices. Thankfully, these problems can be prevented by a variety of dental solutions.
Dentures are teeth fixed to a plastic base with clasps that attach to your natural teeth. It takes time, usually weeks, to get used to the sensation of wearing dentures. With practice, they can be easily removed for cleaning. They are less expensive and easier to repair than other teeth replacement options like bridges or implants. However, they can be less comfortable to wear, affect the way you eat and speak, and usually become loose over time as your gums and bones wear down. Some people feel embarrassed about having to take them out for cleaning and soaking every night.
Bridges are used to fill the space where one or more teeth have been lost. Bonded or cemented into place, a fixed bridge will require a few dental visits to complete. Over two visits, the dentist prepares your neighbouring teeth, takes an impression of your teeth and creates a temporary bridge. The lab then designs and fabricates a permanent bridge which is cemented on two weeks later.
Bridges look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Unlike dentures, they do not require removal for cleaning. However, they require extra effort to clean and once in place, can only be removed by a dentist. The biggest disadvantage of bridges is the need to sacrifice neighbouring good teeth, paring them down so that they can be fitted with crowns in order to support the pontic (the replacement for your missing tooth).
Implants can be used to replace a single tooth or several teeth. They are sturdy and made of titanium. A dental implant is usually performed over several visits in a three-month period but can be done in one dental visit on specially selected patients. They are most similar to natural teeth so you can taste, chew, eat, and speak as if they were real teeth. Implants typically last many years. However, they require surgery and may not be suitable for everybody as certain medical conditions and lifestyle habits preclude them. They can also be rather costly.