Replacing Missing Teeth
by Kasia So you have just had a tooth extracted and now you are left with the question of what do I replace it with? You could replace it with nothing and leave an empty space or if you’re concerned with esthetics and restoring ideal function to biting and eating like the majority of our patients, you have 2 options:
What is it? An implant is a titanium post placed into the bone and acts like your natural root would. An implant crown is then placed on top of the implant and acts like your natural tooth.
In order to place an implant there needs to be sufficient bone in the area for ideal anchorage. Normally after a tooth has been extracted, over time the bone will shrink and this is why you may notice a depression in the area of the missing tooth. In this case we would recommend placing a bone graft after the extraction to preserve the bone.
Once the implant is placed, some time will be needed for the bone and gums around the implant to bond together. An implant crown can then be placed on the implant once sufficient healing has taken place.
Pros – Once the implant is in place and the bone has bonded, an implant can be there for life. It will look and function just like a natural tooth would.
Cons – Placing an implant requires minor surgery and requires healing before a final crown can be placed. Several visits to a dentist may be required.
What is it? A bridge is an artificial tooth that extends over the missing tooth or teeth and is fused to crowns on each side of the artificial tooth that fit over the natural teeth. The bridge is permanently cemented on and cannot be removed.
In order to place a bridge, the dentist would have to file down the teeth on each side of the missing tooth prepare them for the bridge and accommodate for the crowns. A bridge can be made to replace one missing tooth in a quadrant or several. Sometimes an implant is suggested if the teeth are not healthy enough to support a bridge
Pros – Bridges are esthetic and add function. They also require less time for a final result.
Cons – Bridges require healthy enamel to be removed on adjacent teeth. There is potential for decay to develop under the crowns in the seal is compromised. There is a minor risk for adjacent teeth to need root canals if the nerves are affected. Bridges last for about 10 years but can last for longer if properly cared for.
If you are thinking of replacing a missing tooth and have any questions regarding treatment options specific to you, please contact us, we would be more than happy to help you make the decisions that are right for you.