Dental decay, genetics, gum disease or any other factor could have been the cause of your missing teeth. Regardless of the reason, you should be aware of your options of replacement so that you can choose the most suitable one for yourself.
What are the problems faced due to missing teeth?
Each tooth of our dentition has a specific function and missing any one of them can pose various difficulties like:
- Difficulty in chewing – Missing teeth restricts your ability to have foods of your choice. The more the number of missing teeth, the greater the chewing difficulty. Finally, missing teeth can take a toll on your nutrition and overall health.
- Trouble in speech – Front teeth has a major role to play in phonetics. Missing front teeth can affect a person’s ability to speak clearly.
- Conscious about appearance – Missing teeth can alter the way you appear and can lower your self-esteem.
Why should missing teeth be replaced?
People postpone the replacement of a single missing tooth thinking that the rest of the 31 would stand strong even in the absence of one. What they tend to miss out on is that even a single tooth lost from the dentition has a great impact on our entire oral health system.
- Loss of bone– Our jawbone is maintained due to the stimulation received from the roots of our teeth. In the absence of a tooth, the surrounding bone also resorbs. Loss of bone can deteriorate the condition of the remaining teeth and cause the loss of more teeth.
- Bite problem– Suppose if an upper tooth is lost, the corresponding lower tooth overgrows as there is no constraint from the upper tooth anymore. Similarly, the neighbouring teeth move into the space created by the missing tooth creating gaps between the teeth. Spaces in between teeth alter the bite pattern and promote the accumulation of food debris and bacteria thereby, increasing the risk of gum inflammation, dental decay and tooth loss.
What are the options to replace missing teeth?
Here are the most common options for tooth replacement. Visit your dentist and try to find out which one suits you the best.
- Dentures are removable appliances that can be made out of metal or acrylic resin and are used to replace missing teeth.
- Partial dentures replace one or more missing teeth
- Complete dentures replace all the missing teeth in the upper/lower jaw.
- An impression is recorded by your dentist and sent to the laboratory where the denture is fabricated with the help of an acrylic plate and artificial teeth.
- The acrylic base mimics the colour of the gums and the prosthetic teeth are selected to match the shade of the neighbouring teeth.
- Metal wires in the shape of “c” are attached in some dentures to derive support from the adjacent teeth.
- Budget-friendly- removable dentures are quite economical and can be thought of when the budget is the main constraint.
- It can cause irritation in or around the mouth.
- A slight problem with the fit of the denture can cause the denture to turn loose and even increase bone loss.
- Many patients have experienced issues with comfort.
- It needs to be taken out and stored in a container filled with water.
- They need to be replaced after five or six years as the teeth shift their positions and the jaw bone also resorbs.
- A dental bridge is a fixed appliance that consists of three (sometimes four) units- two artificial teeth that are attached to the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth and one artificial tooth that replaces the missing tooth.
- The teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth are reduced in size to accommodate the prosthetic tooth.
- After reduction, the dentist records an impression based on which your dental bridge is designed for you.
- When the dental bridge is ready, you will be called for fixing it with the help of dental cement.
- It is extremely convenient as it is a fixed appliance.
- One or more missing teeth can be replaced.
- It is comfortable while chewing or speaking.
- The recontouring of the supporting teeth involves the removal of the natural tooth structure of a healthy tooth.
- Maintenance of hygiene could be difficult, especially in the area underneath the bridge.
- Long span bridges may not be able to tolerate heavy chewing forces due to a lack of adequate support.
- A dental implant is a titanium screw-like structure that mimics a natural tooth root and is inserted within the jawbone through a surgical procedure.
- The portion of the dental implant buried within the jawbone fuses with the bone as the healing process progresses.
- After the complete integration of the dental implant, a dental crown is attached to the implant to replace the crown portion of the missing tooth.
- Dental implants can be called the only available fixed and permanent tooth replacement solution.
- Prevents bone loss as the implant stays within the bone and provides stimulation to the bone.
- Multiple missing teeth can be replaced.
- More expensive than the rest of the options
- Not a suitable choice for all patients
- It takes a fairly long time for the entire process of replacement to complete.