When you lose teeth due to oral issues such as cavities or gum disease, or from trauma to the face, you have a number of options for replacing your missing teeth. Without a full set of teeth, you may experience difficulty eating some of your favorite foods, such as tough meats or crunchy snacks, you may be self-conscious about your appearance, and you could even experience pain or discomfort. Your dentist and oral surgeon will recommend various options to help you get your smile and your chewing ability back on track, including dental implants, bridges, dentures or others.
Dental implants are safe, effective, durable and long-lasting solutions to replacing missing teeth. The dental implant procedure involves the insertion of an artificial tooth root into your jaw bone, as well as an abutment, or small metal post, which is surgically placed beneath your gum line. A custom-fitted crown is then attached to the post, providing the appearance of a natural tooth. This is often the most recommended and preferred option in comparison to others, as dental implants do not affect your surrounding teeth, they look and feel most like natural teeth, and they are more secure than removable dentures.
However, not everyone is an ideal candidate for dental implants since the surgery requires you to be in optimal health, your jaw bone must be healthy and strong enough to support the implants, and your gums must be void of any disease or infection.
If you are not a candidate for dental implants, a dental bridge may be an alternative option to consider. A bridge is a partial denture that is fixed in the jaw bone and provides replacements for those missing multiple teeth. Whereas dental implants are inserted into your jaw bone, bridges are bonded onto your teeth to bridge the gap created by missing teeth. Bridges may be fixed or removable, but there are also implant bridges available that attach to dental implants.
Dental implants are typically made with titanium metal posts, whereas bridges are made from a variety of different metals, such as gold, alloys or porcelain.
Dentures are another viable option for those missing multiple teeth. Whether you opt for complete or partial dentures depending on your need, your oral surgeon will work closely with your dentist to custom design a comfortably fitting piece that fits over your alveolar bone. Complete dentures are used when a full set of teeth is needed to cover the upper and lower gums. In the case where teeth remain that need to be removed, your dentist may provide you with a temporary denture to wear until your gums have healed following your extraction procedure. In some cases, overdentures may be worn over your remaining teeth or dental implants.
Whether you choose dental implants, bridges or dentures, your missing teeth can be replaced by natural, healthy-looking teeth to restore your chewing ability, confidence and facial structure. Talk to your oral surgeon to determine which option is right for you.