When we see a patient with a missing tooth, they are often embarrassed, concerned, and confused about the options that are available to them. Most people want an aesthetic smile with all their teeth intact. However, some feel this is not possible since they have been missing the tooth for so long and they have just become accustomed to it. Studies show that at least 78% of Americans have at least one cavity by age 17. So, the chances that you will have a missing tooth during your lifetime are considerable.
While most patients fear missing a front (anterior) teeth, missing a back tooth is also problematic. These posterior teeth have an important role in chewing. Besides this, they also affect the overall bite and help ease some of the excessive pressure on the front teeth created by chewing.
So, it is best to address all missing teeth, whether anterior or posterior, straightaway. In this article, we’ll talk about the various options you have if you are missing a tooth, no matter the length of time it has been gone.
Option # 1: Opt for a dental implant: With an implant, the dentist places a titanium post/screw into the jawbone at the site of the missing tooth. After they determine that this post has fused to the bone, they place a crown on that post. With dental implants, an advantage is that you activate the jaw bone by chewing on that surface. This builds stronger bone in the site of the implant and (with proper care) this can last a lifetime similar to any other natural tooth in your mouth.
Option # 2: Opt for traditional bridgework: In traditional bridgework, the teeth on either side of the gap are prepared by removing part of the surface of the teeth to place a multiple set of fixed teeth that are similar to a bridge over water. A possible problem with a fixed bridge is that if either of the two anchor teeth are compromised, you lose the entire bridge. This is the advantage of an implant. Another possible issue is that it is difficult to clean under the bridge. You cannot easily floss the area around a bridge. One of the advantages of a bridge is that you will have a full chewing surface in less time that an implant.
Option # 3: Opt for Partial Denture: There are several styles of removable partial dentures with several different names. As this partial denture can be removed from the mouth, you can clean it. This kind of partial denture needs to fit well for it to be effective. If not fitted properly it could come loose while chewing. It can be an economical option but may be traumatic to the adjacent teeth.
Option # 4: Do nothing: Certain conservative dentists recommend that you do nothing in case of a missing tooth. However, having a missing tooth over time can cause trouble. This is because teeth are placeholders for one another. If a tooth is missing for a prolonged time, other teeth that are adjacent to or opposite from it, may shift and change your bite. Another problem with doing nothing is that you will no longer be able to stress the jaw bone at the location of the missing tooth. This results in an increased risk of losing bone density at that site.
So, now you know at least a few of your options when it comes to missing a tooth. If you have a missing tooth come see Dr. Patty Martin in Walla Walla for a consultation and we can discuss the best option for you! Call Stone Creek Dental Care today at (509) 525-5902 or email firstname.lastname@example.org