There are many reasons a person may have a missing tooth or teeth. Unlike sharks, once our adult teeth erupt in the mouth, it is the only set of teeth we have for our lifetime. So we have to treat them with care. The best way to keep a complete set of healthy teeth is to be diligent with brushing and flossing, visit your dentist routinely for check-ups and cleanings, and avoid trauma by wearing a sports guard while playing any contact sports.
Common Causes of Tooth Loss
- Dental cavities – once cavities are large enough, a tooth may require a root canal treatment, dental crown, or even an extraction.
- Gum disease – gingivitis and periodontitis wear away the supporting structures of the teeth, such as the gums, bone and ligament. This leads to loose teeth and eventual tooth loss.
- Trauma – teeth can be knocked out from force, such as during contact sports, falls and fights.
- Naturally occurring missing teeth – for some people, teeth don’t form properly or don’t form at all. Commonly this will be the upper lateral incisors or the first premolars.
Listed below are standard options for replacing a missing tooth or teeth.
A dental bridge is a cap that covers a missing tooth that uses the teeth on either side for support. A dental bridge can be used to replace one or two missing teeth in a row, but no more than that, as it requires the strength of adjacent teeth. The lost tooth replacement is called a pontic, while the supporting teeth are called abutments. The downside to a dental bridge is that the adjacent teeth will have to be ground down and have crowns placed, regardless of the health of those teeth. To clean a dental bridge, floss threaders are required to access underneath since the entire bridge is connected.
A dental implant is a screw placed into the bone where the missing tooth is, with a porcelain crown placed overtop. A dental implant looks, feels and functions just like a natural tooth and is cleaned similarly. If properly cared for, dental implants can last for life. Dental implants can also be used in addition to bridges and dentures to offer support. Once a screw is placed, it requires 4-6 months to heal before the crown can be placed on top.
Dentures have been around for a long time and are widely used to replace missing teeth. A traditional denture is an appliance that can be removed at will. It contains fake teeth to replace either a couple of missing teeth or an entire arch of missing teeth. Dentures are the most cost effective solution, but they also feel the least like natural teeth. They require adjustment over time and can feel uncomfortable and bulky.
If you have any questions about replacing missing teeth, we encourage you to call us today to book an appointment. We have tooth replacement options to suit every smile and budget.