If you lose a tooth due to gum disease, tooth decay, trauma or following an extraction, we recommended that you have the missing tooth or teeth replaced as soon as possible.
Depending upon factors like the condition of your remaining teeth, your expectations, budget, personal habits and lifestyle, there are a number of ways in which you can replace a tooth. These include removable options (like partial dentures), and fixed options (like implants and bridges).
Having a full set of teeth is important both mechanically and for aesthetics. A full set of teeth can improve your self-confidence, allowing you to chew and talk properly. They can also maintaining the shape of your face through interaction with supporting muscles and cheeks.
Whilst some missing teeth (especially second molars), can be left untreated without many consequences, leaving other teeth missing can lead to problems with adjoining and opposing teeth.
An opposing tooth can over-erupt and neighboring teeth may tilt or move. These sorts of issues can lead to occlusion problems that negatively affect your bite. If these problems are left untreated for long periods of time, later treatment options may be more expensive and less effective.
Fixed options are non-removable options to restore your smile by permanently replacing your missing teeth.
Bridges essentially ‘bridge’ the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
They are often made of false teeth attached between two or more crowns. Crowns are ‘tooth-shaped caps’ that attach onto your existing teeth or implants.
A traditional bridge involves a false tooth attached between two crowns that sit on adjacent teeth (also known as abutments). Other bridges, like the cantilever bridge, only have one crown supporting the false tooth. It is useful where there are remaining teeth only on one side of the missing tooth. Another option is resin-bonded bridges that have wings that are bonded to the back of the adjacent teeth to support the new false tooth in the middle. Cantilever bridges are a less invasive procedure but are not suitable for all teeth (like back molars, as it is weaker than a traditional bridge).
A bridge normally lasts quite well, often more than 10 years. What makes a successful bridge is similar to what makes a successful crown. These factors include the type of material used, the strength and condition of the supporting teeth and the pressure placed on the bridge. Additionally, the risk of failure increases with each additional tooth involved in the bridge. As implants stand by themselves, they are not as reliant on the state of adjacent teeth for their success. With a bridge, however, problems with any tooth involved in the bridge can affect the success of the bridge. In such cases, treatment can become complex or the bridge may even fail as a whole.
During treatment, we will take impressions of your teeth and note the shade (colours) of your teeth. Your supporting teeth (also known as abutments) will then be filed down in size so that the bridge will fit properly over them. A temporary bridge will be fitted in place while the permanent bridge is being prepared in a dental laboratory. At the next appointment, after the bridge has been made, it will be cemented onto the abutments (adjacent teeth) with the false tooth (known in dental terms as a ‘pontic’) suspended between them.
Dental implants are a relatively newer option than bridges and dentures. They can also be the best in terms of aesthetics and comfort. They generally last longer than bridges and dentures but are also the most expensive option.
Implants consist of a titanium socket that is fixed into your jawbone (which acts like a natural tooth root anchoring the tooth to the body) and a new false tooth that is fixed into the socket from above.
Implants preserve your existing bone structure, preventing bone loss and helping to maintain the shape of your face. In the weeks after the titanium socket is implanted into your jaw, the jawbone will grow into and around the implant, firmly anchoring it into your jaw. This is known in dental terms as integration. Whilst this integration is occurring, we will design a new false tooth and have it manufactured in a dental laboratory. This false tooth will then be fitted into the socket after the socket has successfully integrated.
To be suitable for implants, you must have sufficiently dense bone tissue in your jaw to enable the socket to be implanted. If your missing tooth has been left untreated for too long, natural bone loss can mean that implants will not be a suitable treatment option for you. However, there are options we can consider, like a bone graft, which can strengthen your bone structure sufficiently to allow implants to be used.
If you smoke or have periodontal disease (gum disease), then implants may not be suitable for you as both of these risk factors can significantly lower the success rate of your implant integrating into the jaw bone.
Partial or full dentures are removable options to restore your missing teeth. These are the ‘false teeth’ that most people think of and associate with the elder generations.
As the name suggests, a partial denture is used when there are some remaining natural teeth to support the partial denture. So, partial dentures complement your remaining teeth to give you a full smile.
Full dentures are used when you have lost or are about to lose all of your natural teeth.
As they are a removable option, dentures usually do not provide the same level of comfort and aesthetics as fixed options. However, dentures remain a popular option as they usually cost less, require no surgery, and can be done within a shorter period of time.
When you come to see us we recommended that you bring your existing dentures with you for us to examine. Remember, dentures require regular maintenance and even replacement after a number of years. Regular maintenance will ensure that the dentures fit more comfortably and last longer.
Acrylic partial dentures are attached to gum-coloured acrylic base plates, and they are the cheapest and quickest option. They are most suitable when you expect more changes to your teeth within short periods of time, and as a temporary solution whilst considering other treatment options. However, they break more easily than other types of partial dentures, and are the least comfortable and least dimensionally stable.
Cobalt chrome partial dentures are another type of denture that consist of a metal framework that holds the denture in place in your mouth. They are thinner, more closely fitted and precise. They are the most comfortable to wear and adapt to, and are stronger than other partial dentures. However, they are more expensive and can be more noticeable at certain angles as they are made of metal. These dentures are the most suitable if your teeth are unlikely to change.
Valplast partial dentures are flexible dentures. They are thinner, more closely fitted and more flexible than acrylic dentures and so they are more comfortable than acrylic dentures. However, no changes can be made to these types of dentures at all. They usually look better as they do not contain any metal. They are best for patients who have few missing teeth and more stable dental conditions.
When fitting dentures, we will make a series of impressions of your teeth, record your bite and the shade and size of your teeth to help us design your dentures. Sometimes, a try-in session is required to check your bite and position of your teeth. Once the final denture is made, we may need to adjust it a few more times to ensure that the denture is as comfortable as it can be.
Whenever you have a new denture or a repaired denture, you can experience soreness, pain or looseness after a few days of using your new denture. Don’t worry, at Dentist Mandy, we can address these issues and will do our best to make your denture as comfortable as possible to wear.
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding which denture option is the most suitable for you. These factors include:
• the condition of your remaining teeth;
• the number of missing teeth;
• your overall medical condition;
• your oral hygiene;
• your lifestyle and habits;
• your aesthetic requirements; and
• your expectations.
At Dentist Mandy, we will help you consider all these factors and help you make an informed decision.
If your treatment is likely to be extremely complex, we may refer you to see a Prosthodontist to achieve the best results.
If denture production or repair is required urgently, we can also refer you to see a Prosthodontist or dental prosthetist for urgent treatment.