Your teeth have a very important job: to help you eat. Of course, maintaining your teeth also helps with bone structure and tooth alignment. If you’re missing a tooth, the teeth next to them can start to shift and slant inward.
Plus, without one or more teeth, it can be difficult to:
- Chew your food
Missing teeth have been found in one study to lead to lower self-esteem and confidence. Over 6% of Canadians have no teeth at all, while a much higher percentage are missing one or more teeth.
Our team at Lighthouse Dental helps patients, just like you, restore their smile and bite with industry-leading dental care. We offer numerous options to our patients to replace missing teeth, including:
1. Dental Implants
Dental implants are one of the most sought-after options for tooth loss for millions of Canadians. This is because implants are as close to your normal tooth as the dental industry can currently provide.
Implants are very successful with a success rate of 97% or more.
However, the process of having implants put in is longer than other tooth replacement options. The procedure will require:
- Titanium post put into the bone where the tooth will be
- Healing of 6 – 12 weeks
- Abutment attached to the post and then a crown attached to the abutment
Due to the intense process for implants, it is a costlier replacement option, but it’s also one of the most realistic options available.
- Improvement in confidence. Dental implants look just like your real teeth, so you’ll regain your confidence when you smile.
- Comfortable. The post fuses to your jawbone allowing implants to be very comfortable and they won’t move around like a partial or full denture does.
- Ease of eating. Dental implants allow you to eat your favorite foods without worrying that the denture will move out of place or become uncomfortable.
- Tooth support. Nearby teeth regain their support thanks to the implant. You'll also find that your overall oral hygiene increases with implants versus other tooth replacement options.
- Cost. The cost to have dental implants placed is going to be much higher than with some of the other options below.
- Healing time. There is a long healing process with implants that is necessary before the abutment and crown can be placed. You will not have teeth during this healing period, and this is concerning for some of our patients.
- Failure. In rare cases, there is a risk that the implant will fail.
Dental insurance companies do not provide coverage for dental implants in most cases.
Implants cause very minimal pain, if any, for patients. However, if dental implants are too expensive or not a good option for you, we may consider one of the other options below.
2. Fixed Bridges
Fixed dental bridges are another top-tier option for anyone with missing teeth. If you want a permanent solution to your missing teeth but do not want a dental implant, you may benefit from a dental bridge.
There are multiple dental bridge options available that we can discuss with you in our office.
However, fixed bridges are a great option and are held in place by what we call an “abutment” tooth that is on either side of your missing tooth. We may also recommend one of the following types of bridges:
- Maryland dental bridge
- Cantilever bridge
- Traditional bridge
Fixed bridges have many pros and cons, both of which need to be considered before this form of tooth replacement.
- Boost confidence, restore bite and more. Just like with implants, bridges will help you restore your smile, regain your confidence and eat more comfortably. You'll also benefit from the dental structure being better supported with a bridge.
- Easy to clean. You don’t need to take out the bridge to clean your teeth. Instead, the bridge remains in place and will be cleaned when your brush and floss your teeth.
- Cost. When compared to dental implants, bridges are going to be the more affordable option, allowing you to have your smile restored for less.
- Tooth alteration. You won’t need to have surgery for a dental bridge, but you will need to have your tooth altered. Tooth alteration requires a minimal amount of enamel to be removed from the tooth, and you may experience problems with these teeth in the future.
- Bone loss potential. Bridges do not address potential bone loss in the same way that dental implants do. The bridge will remain above the gum line, meaning bone loss from missing teeth will continue to occur.
If a fixed bridge isn’t a good option for you, we may consider a resin-retained bridge, too.
3. Resin-retained Bridges
Resin-retained or resin-bonded bridges are great options for replacing a single tooth and are quite common for missing front teeth or non-chewing teeth. The design of this bridge is much like a wing that extends from one of the surrounding teeth to support the bridge.
Due to the minimally invasive procedure, this is a fantastic option for anyone that has been in an accident and lost a front tooth.
However, since the tooth is bonded to a surrounding tooth, it will not be ideal for a chewing tooth where a lot of pressure can damage the bonding or abutment tooth. With that said, there are many pros and cons of resin-retained bridges:
- Aesthetics. Bridges look and feel great. When you smile, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the replaced tooth and any of the surrounding teeth.
- Repairable. Unlike other types of restoration, a resin-retained bridge is easy to repair. If a repair is necessary due to failure, a re-bonding will often correct the issue. Fractures may also be repairable.
- Cost. The cost for this type of bridge is often lower than the other alternatives above.
- Minimally invasive. Placing the bridge is fast with little additional work needed to bond the bridge properly.
- Not ideal for chewing. If a tooth is required for chewing, the strength of the bonding can come into question. However, when it comes to teeth that are not heavily involved in chewing, these bridges can work very well but be prepared as they can come loose often.
- Use-case specific. We’ll need to examine your surrounding and missing tooth to see if this type of bridge is a good choice for you.
When implants and bridges are not a viable option, dentures are the next best choice.
4. Partial Dentures
Partial dentures are an affordable option for your missing teeth and will help improve your smile while preventing teeth from shifting. Additionally, we can create your dentures by taking a basic impression of your teeth and sending them to the lab.
Dentures do not require invasive procedures to be performed, and you’ll always have the option of a dental implant or bridge in the future.
A few of the pros and cons are:
- Cost. The overall cost of a partial denture is cheaper than having a bridge or implants put in place.
- Expandable. If you lose more teeth in the future, it may be possible to add these missing teeth to the denture.
- Tooth retainment. A partial denture allows you to save some of your teeth, which is always recommended over extraction.
- Must be removed. You will need to remove the dentures at night. Additionally, you will want to place them in a cleaning solution, which is another step in your new dental routine.
- Abutment plaque. The abutment teeth, or where the denture attaches, will suffer from more plaque buildup. You'll need to clean these areas thoroughly because a lost abutment will require a new denture to be made.
Partial dentures are for patients that have just a few missing teeth. However, you may need full dentures if the entire bottom or top teeth are missing.
5. Full Dentures
Full dentures are required when you have no more teeth left to act as an abutment and dental implants are out of the question. While these dentures surely have their own disadvantages, there are also a lot of pros to consider, too:
- Works for everyone. Dentures will work for everyone, so there’s no question if they’ll work for you or not.
- Look good. High-end dentures will look like your real set of teeth, so you can smile with confidence.
- Maintenance. Aside from cleaning the dentures, there’s very little maintenance required to maintain the dentures long-term.
- Move. One issue with all dentures is that they can move out of place. Full dentures tend to move more than others and may require you to apply an adhesive for them to adhere to your gums comfortably.
- Must be removed. Full dentures must be removed at night and put back in when you wake up.
- Replacement. Depending on the foods that you eat, you may have to replace dentures often as they will wear down.
If you have missing teeth, you deserve to smile confidently again. At Lighthouse Dental, we can help you restore your smile, feel better, eat the foods you love again and maintain your dental structure.
Schedule an appointment with us to learn which tooth replacement option is best for your needs.