A Practical Guide To Replacing Missing Teeth
Alexandra Dental Care discusses the pros and cons of various tooth replacement options
Although we all hope to avoid it, the fact is that most of us will probably lose at least one adult tooth during our lifetime. Unlike baby teeth, there are no more teeth waiting below the gum line to erupt in their place when this happens. Depending on whether the gap left by the missing tooth is visible or not, we may then look at the various options that are available to replace it rather than be left with a ‘gappy smile’.
We always recommend that our Burton and Ashby patients do replace any missing teeth, whether the gap is visible or not. Even lost teeth towards the rear of the mouth can cause a number of problems including leaving you with an uneven bite, and therefore possible additional tooth wear. Movement of other teeth may also mean that they then encroach into the available space and even issues such as speech defects can then arise.
The good news is that there are a number of tooth replacement options available, and we look at the pros and cons of each of these below.
Leave the gap?
Pros – Convenient and no cost. Providing that you brush the gum in that area, oral health care is straightforward.
Cons – If there is a visible gap, most people will feel embarrassed or awkward with a gappy smile. This can also make eating some foods difficult along with potential speech difficulties. ‘Tooth drift’ may also happen where other teeth move into the gap. This can cause general movement of the rest of the teeth leaving you with an uneven and crooked smile that requires orthodontic correction.
Pros – The cheapest option for replacing missing teeth. Modern dentures are of a very good standard and look reasonably realistic. They usually require no dental surgery to be fitted.
Cons – As dentures ‘sit’ on the gums rather than being rooted in them, bone loss is inevitable in that area which can then lead to facial shape changes. This is one of the reasons why dentures may occasionally move around in the mouth a little, making eating and speaking a little tricky at times. Ill fitting dentures can cause sore and painful gums. Some people find the cleaning regimen quite messy and tricky as dentures need to be removed from the mouth to clean them. There may be ongoing maintenance costs over time which can reduce their cost effectiveness quite considerably.
Pros – Offer a more stable option than dentures, allowing you to eat a wider range of foods more easily. Are considered to be a reasonably cost effective way of having a missing tooth replaced.
Cons – Require preparation of teeth either side of the gap so that the replacement tooth/teeth can be attached using crowns. This may require surgery on what are otherwise healthy teeth. Extra care needs to be taken when cleaning around and underneath the bridge to prevent gum disease from occurring. As with dentures, bone loss will still occur as no tooth root is present.
Pros – Offer an extremely stable tooth replacement option that allows you to eat whatever food you want. Will cause no difficulties with speech and also look entirely natural. Long lasting with most still successfully functioning over twenty years if looked after correctly. Maintains bone structure due to the implant acting as a replacement tooth root. Straightforward to clean as you would do your own natural teeth. They are cost effective, rarely requiring any aftercare if you take care of them as advised.
Cons – Require invasive dental treatment and, for individual implants, a healing period of around 3 months to allow the titanium implant to fuse with the bone. A more expensive option than dentures or bridges but payment plans are available for our patients. They can fail although this is rare if you look after them and have had them placed at a reputable practice such as Alexandra Dental Care. Avoid ‘cheap implants abroad’ type offers to minimise this potential problem.
Hopefully this discussion on the pros and cons of these treatments will enable you to start to make an informed choice about which treatment option works best for you. We understand that having dental implants placed may pose some issues and possibly even cause anxieties for some of you. This is one of the reasons that we offer free initial consultations, not only so we can assess your suitability to have the treatment, but also to enable you to talk to one of our experienced implant dentists about the procedure and any other concerns you may have.
If you would like to arrange to take up a free consultation, and live in Burton, Asby or Swadlincote, please call our reception team on 01283 216347.Google+