Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 4-03-2019
Missing teeth can be a cause for embarrassment, especially if gaps show when you smile. However, many people do not realize that missing teeth can cause more than embarrassment. Missing teeth can interfere with eating and speaking. In fact, even a single missing tooth can lead to a myriad of issues including shifting, bite challenges and bone loss. The good news is there are many options for teeth replacement sure to suit your needs and budget. Here is an overview of the different denture types and the pros and cons of each tooth replacement solution.
The Issues Caused by Missing Teeth
There are three main issues caused by missing teeth:
- Bite Issues: The biting surfaces of your teeth are unique to you and are designed to provide effective chewing. If you have a missing tooth or teeth, your bite is compromised as the contact with upper and lower teeth has changed. This can lead to headaches, grinding and tooth breakage. Missing teeth also leave your mouth open to issues. As food becomes lodged in the gaps more bacteria is allowed to develop in your mouth leading to tissue damage and cavities.
- Shifting Teeth: When there is a gap in your teeth, it causes a domino effect.Teeth will slowly begin to lean towards the gaps as the missing teeth are no longer there to provide support. This leads to further gaps and overlaps as teeth shift position. If you do not replace your missing teeth, this shifting will worsen over time.
- Bone Loss: Bone grows around the root of your tooth providing support. When you lose a tooth, the bone is no longer needed and begins to shrink away. Depending on the location of your missing teeth and the number of teeth missing, this can actually begin to affect the appearance of your face and jaw. Also, if you do not arrange for tooth replacement within a reasonable amount of time, the bone loss can make it difficult to find a good solution for tooth replacement such as implants.
What are the Different Denture Types?
The denture types available can suit your needs whether you have lost a single tooth, multiple teeth or all of your teeth. They are available in both removable and fixed designs. They offer natural looking teeth that are customized to match the colour, shape and look of your remaining teeth. In the case of full dentures, pictures can be used to match your original teeth. The types of dentures available include:
- Partial Dentures: Partial dentures are used when you are missing a single or several teeth. They are a removable dental appliance that provides natural looking teeth customized to match your existing teeth in colour and shape. The replacement teeth are affixed to a partial plate to keep them in place. They offer an affordable tooth replacement that is less-invasive than other options such as implants. They are also easy to replace and repair should they be damaged or lost. Although they do restore the look of your smile and improve the function of your bite, they do not provide the stability of fixed replacement options.
- Full Dentures: As the name implies, full dentures are used when you have lost all of your teeth. They consist of both upper and lower appliances that look and work the same way as partial dentures. The main difference is they are not fitted with a plate and instead are designed to fit snugly over your gums. They offer an affordable option when compared to implant options for tooth replacement. As with partial dentures they do not offer the stability and permanence of implants.
- Implant-Supported Removable Dentures: An implant-supported denture provides extra support using implants. They are recommended in cases where you do not have teeth, but your bone is still healthy enough to support implants. Dentures are attached by “snapping” into the implants. Although they can be used for both upper and lower dentures, they tend to be recommended for the lower jaw more often as lower dentures tend to be less stable.
What are the Benefits of Dentures?
There are many benefits to dentures as a tooth replacement option, including:
- Non-invasive solution unless you choose implant supports
- Improved bite
- Improved chewing for a healthier diet
- Less embarrassment when eating even difficult foods such as apples or corn on the cob
- Improved confidence with a brand-new smile
- Avoids changes to the appearance of your face
- Protects any remaining teeth you might have from shifting
- Easy care
- Allows removal to care for your remaining teeth
Other Tooth Replacement Options
There are a number of permanent tooth replacement options, including:
- Fixed Bridges: This is an excellent option to replace a single tooth or a few missing teeth side by side. Crowns provide the artificial tooth and the bridge is affixed to neighbouring teeth providing a secure anchor. This is an excellent alternative to partial dentures as they look natural and are very stable.They are also more affordable and less invasive than implants.
- Implant Crowns and Bridges: This offers the most permanent and natural fit and look for missing teeth. The natural looking crown is affixed using an implanted titanium post that secures the crown to the jaw. This post acts very much like a natural root which is healthier not only for your overall teeth, but also for your bone. The implants provide the same bone stimulation as your natural roots which helps to prevent bone deterioration. As with a fixed bridge you can use a single crown implant or you can use a bridge for a row of missing teeth. Full mouth replacements are also available. Although this requires surgery and also be very expensive, it is the most permanent and natural option both in appearance and function.
What are the Benefits of Implants?
Implant crowns and bridges offer many benefits including:
- They provide a strong, natural feeling bite
- They can last for decades with the proper care
- They resemble the look of natural teeth
- Crowns and bridges keep teeth from shifting
- The implants stimulate the jaw to prevent bone deterioration