Replacing Missing Teeth

Your teeth affect your whole body. When they’re healthy, you’re healthier too. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech and eating choices. As you rely more on your remaining teeth, you increase the chance they will wear out prematurely, or be damaged or lost. You may also experience headaches and/or jaw pain.

Who would want their appearance and health to deteriorate? That’s the natural consequence of missing teeth – the jaw literally melts away. Generally, people will lose 25% of their supporting jaw bone structure within the first year after tooth loss. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news: Implants act just like your natural teeth. They safeguard and preserve your bone structure, oral health and appearance. Your dentist along with Dr. Schelkun, Dr. Kienle and Dr. Steinkeler will provide you with options so that you can make the most informed decision concerning tooth replacement.

Tooth Replacement Options

You can select from a number of different options to replace your missing teeth – from temporary to long-lasting solutions.

A good candidate is anyone missing one or more teeth, or who is unhappy with their dentures. Age is not a factor. However, smoking, and radiation therapy to the area, have been shown to lower the success rate of implant placement. X-rays of your jaw will be taken to evaluate whether they will accommodate implants. Detailed 3-D cone-beam scans may also be required to determine if other tests or procedures are needed to place implants properly.

Missing Tooth Illustration: A dental fixed bridge replacing a missing upper front tooth

Fixed Bridge

A fixed bridge is a connected set of replacement teeth. For support, it is cemented into position on top of the teeth adjacent to the empty space. The outer layer of these teeth is removed or ground down (prepared) prior to attaching the bridge.

Missing Upper Front Tooth Illustration: A removable retainer with a plastic tooth known as a Flipper

Flipper

A fragile, temporary and inexpensive solution is a removable plastic tooth with a plastic retainer, often called a “flipper”.

Replacing missing lower front teeth illustration: A sturdy partial denture cast in metal and plastic

Metal Partial

A less fragile option is a removable partial denture cast in metal and plastic. It is held in place by wire clips. A removable partial denture can be removed and reinserted when required by the patient. The teeth that the partial rest on for support will fail over time requiring new partial dentures to be made.

Replacing all missing lower teeth illustration: A full denture for the entire lower jaw

Denture

The most common treatment, for people missing all teeth in one or both jaws are complete removable dentures. Few people adapt well to dentures. Most others find them uncomfortable and even intolerable.

Replacing a missing lower tooth illustration: A permanent dental implant and crown restoration

Dental Implants

Dental implants are the most comfortable and permanent solution. They form a strong foundation for teeth and keep the jaw healthy and strong. Implants support individual replacement teeth or secure specialized dentures in place. Unlike bridges, no healthy teeth are damaged. Unlike most bridges, implants can last a lifetime. Implant-supported replacement teeth can be attractive, stable, and comfortable for almost any patient.