Losing a tooth can be extremely upsetting and it can happen even if you take good care of your teeth, for example losing a tooth through an accident. It might be necessary to have a tooth extracted if it had root canal treatment and has subsequently fractured or become weak, and having untreated teeth grinding can also lead to teeth becoming broken down and to gum recession. So what can you do if you lose a tooth?
A Partial Denture, Bridge or Implant?
Your choice is one of three options which are to have a partial denture, a bridge or a dental implant. A partial denture is the easiest and cheapest option and is also the least invasive but it does have drawbacks. The denture is supported on the gums and is likely to require metal clasps around your existing teeth. This might mean these teeth need to be modified in order to support the clasps. Dentures are not always terrifically stable, and they do need to be taken out at night for cleaning, and left out to give the gums a chance to recover.
A dental bridge might be a better option, but this does mean the teeth either side of the missing tooth will need to be cut down so they can be crowned. The crowns support the pontic or replacement tooth and a dental bridge is permanently cemented in position. The main drawback of having a bridge is that it does require your natural teeth to be modified in some way. This can be a good choice if these teeth are broken down or substantially decayed and would benefit from being crowned. If they are healthy and in good shape, then cutting them down might not be your best choice, as they will always need to be crowned.
Why Choose a Dental Implant?
Your third choice is to have dental implants, and this is becoming an increasingly popular option. It is the most expensive choice but it’s also likely to be the most long lived, making it far more cost-effective in the longer term. Dental implants are especially good for replacing single teeth as there’s no need to have healthy teeth modified in any way, and in fact having a dental implant will help the rest of your natural teeth to remain in the correct positions, and will help preserve your jawbone.
It’s easiest to think of a dental implant is being like an artificial tooth root, as it consists of a titanium post that is inserted into the jawbone. This might sound dramatic but in fact the procedure is very straightforward and a single dental implant can be placed in about an hour.
It does take quite a long time for the implant to fuse with the jawbone, typically 3 to 6 months, but after this the implant can be restored with a porcelain crown. It gives by far the best results as the crown will look as if it is emerging from the gums in the same way as your natural teeth. One thing to bear in mind is that porcelain crowns cannot be bleached, so if you intend to whiten your teeth then you need to do so before having your permanent porcelain crown so it can be matched to the colour of your newly white teeth.