Missing teeth can have a significant impact not only on one’s appearance, but also on self confidence and overall health. Whether due to neglect, trauma, or just old age, many people will lose some of their teeth.
Why It Is Important to Replace Missing Teeth
If spaces are left unfilled, they may cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position, resulting in a bad bite. Additionally, teeth on top actually drop down or teeth on either side tip in to fill the empty space. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to become more susceptible to decay, and gum disease. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Every tooth is valuable, even those in the back of the mouth. Although the spaces caused by missing teeth may not be visible, they can cause a variety of problems. Chewing forces may shift, causing the front teeth to move and create unwanted spaces.
What many people do not know is that an altered bite can cause the collapse of facial features. The more teeth that are lost, the greater chance for wrinkles and indented facial shapes. This creates premature aging.
As soon as a tooth is lost, the supporting bone in the jaw begins to dissolve. The longer a tooth is missing, the greater the bone loss. Over time, more and more of the jawbone disintegrates until it becomes weak and noticeably smaller.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you have four options for making your smile complete:
- A Fixed Bridge
- A Removable Bridge
- A Complete Denture
- Dental Implants
|Fixed Bridge||Removable Bridge||Complete Denture||Implants|
|Treatment Time||2-4 weeks.||2-4 Office Visits.||2-5 Office Visits.||Surgical Placement: about 1 hour per implant.
Healing: about 3 months in lower jaw and 6 months in upper jaw.
Second Surgery(if needed): 30-60 minutes.
|Maintenance||Clean Daily under the bridge with floss threaders.||Conventional: Remove and clean after eating.|
Precision-attachment: Clean and adjust regularly.
|Clean after meals to remove and prevent stains on denture.||Floss and perform home care daily.
Have a restorative exam every 3-4 months.
|Results||Esthetic tooth replacement.||Conventional: Least expensive way to replace missing teeth.|
Precision-attachment: More esthetic than a conventional removable bridge.
|Esthetically pleasing results are possible.||Natural appearance possible.
Good individual functioning.
|Treatment Longevity||Conventional and Cantilever: 5-15 years.|
Resin Bonded: 5-10 years.
|5-10 years.||5-10 years; tooth fracture may occur (but is easy to repair) and relining may be necessary at this time.||For the implant, indefinite if no infection. For crown portion, 5-15 years.|
|Cost||Conventional and cantilever: $950-$3500 per tooth.|
Resin Bonded: $650-$2500 per tooth.
|Conventional: $850-$3500 per tooth depending on the design and materials used. Precision-attachment: $950-$5000 per tooth.||$525 t0 $5000 per denture. Expect to pay 2-3 times this amount for "cosmetic dentures".||$975-$2800 per implant (plus additional cost of crowns).|
|Advantages||Feels more like natural teeth.|
Can be most esthetic.
Helps prevent movement of adjacent teeth.
Improves the bite.
Resin-bonded: Avoids reduction of adjacent teeth.
|Economical method of tooth replacement.|
Easy to repair.
|Excellent esthetics possible.|
More youthful appearance obtainable.
Supports lips and cheeks.
Can improve speech.
|Most closely approximates having your own natural teeth.
Avoid reduction of adjacent teeth.
Can be flossed like natural teeth.
Helps preserve bone.
Have approximately 95% success rate over 40 year lifespan of implant.
|Disadvantages||If one of the attached teeth fails, the entire bridge fails.|
May be difficult to repair if the porcelain chips or fractures.
Requires an anesthetic.
|Can caused wear and trauma to attached teeth.|
May not be as esthetic as a fixed bridge.
Precision attachment: Attachments can break or wear.
|Less chewing efficiency.|
Retention may be a problem.
May need to be replaced every 5-10 years.
May impede speech in some instances.
|3-7% failure rate.
Ceramic implants can fracture.
Abutment screws can loosen or break.
Requires an anesthetic.