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Replacing Missing Teeth: Exploring Your Options

More than 120 million people in the United States alone have suffered from tooth loss at least once in the past year! If you have ever lost a tooth and don’t know what to do, don’t worry because there are several options to replace missing teeth. Some treatment options are so realistic that people won’t even be able to tell that you’re missing a tooth at all. 

But what options should you consider when replacing missing teeth? What should you expect from such a procedure? Keep reading and learn more about your options below.

Replacing a Single Missing Tooth

You can fix missing teeth in a variety of ways, but if you are only missing one tooth, then you might be better off opting for a dental implant. A dental implant with a crown is a replica tooth designed to replace your missing tooth. Dental implants are very realistic and also very sturdy. 

Once you have your dental implant, you only need to brush and floss, as with your other teeth, to keep them in good shape. Implant crowns don’t develop cavities since it consists of porcelain or other similar materials. The only downside of dental implants is that the procedure can take a long time. 

Before you can get the entire dental implant, you need to start with a metal post (implant body) that will function to anchor the implant to your jawbone. To accomplish this, your dentist will first drill a small hole in your jawbone and place the metal post inside under an anesthetic. The metal post is made of surgical-grade steel or titanium since these two metals will not negatively interact with the body. 

If your jawbone is weak or lacks enough bone for the metal post to be attached, you may need to get a bone graft. A graft involves either taking some bone from another part of your body and grafting it to your jaw or using a synthetic grafting material. If a graft is required, you can expect to wait several months to allow the grafting material to integrate with your existing bone and for healing to occur.

How do Dental Implants work?

Once you get the metal post, you can expect to wait several more months for healing and for the metal post to fuse with the existing bone. This allows your jawbone the time it needs to grow around the metal post. Once this happens, the metal post will be anchored by the bone. 

The next step is to install the abutment. The abutment is a small connector piece that sits between the metal post and the dental crown (tooth). It is relatively soft because it needs to act as a cushion between the post and the crown. 

After that, it will finally be time to apply the dental crown. The dental crown is the part of the dental implant that looks like a natural tooth. Once your dentist applies the dental crown, your smile will immediately look much better.

Many people won’t even be able to see any difference between your natural teeth and your new dental implant. A dental implant is one of the best options to replace missing teeth. But what are your other options, and what if you need to replace several missing teeth at once?

Bridges and Dentures

While you can get dental implants to replace several teeth at once, they are not always recommended for several reasons. First, getting several dental implants can be invasive and destressing for your mouth. Second, dental implants can be expensive, usually requiring several thousand dollars per tooth/implant. 

Getting only one dental implant may not be overly costly, but you might need to pay significantly more when replacing several teeth with dental implants. For that reason, if you are missing several teeth that are close together, it is usually best to opt for a bridge instead. A bridge looks similar to a dental implant at first glance, but upon closer inspection, you will find that its structure is quite different. 

A bridge functions to replace several teeth at once but usually only teeth that are right next to each other. A bridge may replace two, three, and even four teeth at a time. A skilled dentist can design the bridge to fit your mouth to look realistic once installed. 

What is a Dental Bridge?

A bridge is usually anchored to your mouth by other teeth. A bridge has attachments on either end that attach to either your natural teeth or dental implants. Whatever the case, these attachments are necessary to keep the bridge in place. 

Bridges are more affordable for replacing several teeth compared to dental implants. More than that, they are also straightforward to take care of.

How do Dentures work?

But what about dentures?

Dentures are usually best suited for people who are missing most, if not all, of their teeth. For example, if you are missing almost all of your teeth, your dentist might recommend that you remove your remaining teeth. If not, the dentures may not fit properly. This is most likely if the condition of your existing or remaining teeth is severely compromised.

Some people don’t like dentures because they can require a lot more maintenance and regular removal and cleaning. At the same time, while dentures can look realistic and are an affordable dental option for some people, dental implants and bridges are increasingly popular for the reasons outlined above. 

All About Replacing Missing Teeth

If you have missing teeth, you won’t have to live with them forever. There are many treatment options you can choose from. Dental implants are the most popular choice for those who only want to replace one or two missing teeth. 

If you need to replace several teeth at once, a dental bridge may be a good option. To replace all your teeth, try dentures. To learn more, contact us here.

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