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Replacing Missing Teeth Missing teeth can be replaced in a variety of ways.

You may be a candidate for any one or all of them, depending on the circumstances. Implants are becoming the treatment of choice for a number of reasons. Most significant among these is the expected longevity, strength and stability offered by current implant treatment, as well as the predictability of implant treatment with current technologies. Listed below are common treatment options for missing teeth.



Fixed Bridge


replacefpdTeeth can also be replaced with a fixed bridge if there are teeth in the area that are adequate in number and sufficiently healthy and strong to support the artificial teeth. In order to fabricate a bridge, the adjacent teeth are prepared by reducing their size (or cut down) to remove all the enamel, making room for the prosthetic tooth restoration. A prosthetic tooth (or teeth) can be suspended between adjacent teeth in this way to provide a functional and cosmetic replacement for the missing tooth.

The limitation of this form of treatment has to do with the irreversible preparation of the adjacent (abutment) teeth for support. This exposes them to the risk of trauma to their nerves, raising the risk of requiring root canal treatment. Long-term, fixed bridges between natural teeth have an average life expectancy of 10-12 years before requiring replacement. Replacement of fixed bridges often entails further treatment as the abutment or supporting teeth have been further compromised over time by advancing dental disease (such as cavities or periodontal bone loss).



Dentures


replacedentureRemovable partial or full dentures can replace a single missing tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth in your upper and/or lower jaw. Dentures rely on support by the other teeth in that jaw (for partial dentures) and from mechanical support by the remaining ridge of gum and underlying bone. Maxillary (upper jaw) full dentures also may be helped by suction between the denture and the underlying gum of your palate (roof of mouth).

Reasons for replacing a missing tooth (or teeth) vary and should be weighed against the risks of leaving the space, as well as resultant changes that may take place in the rest of your dentition.

Dental Implants

implant anatomy1Perhaps the most stable of all the treatments, dental implants are surgically placed into the jaw bone. After an implant heals, a dental crown is attached to the top of the implant, securing the fake tooth and preventing it from moving. Implants can also be used to anchor dentures into place. Patients must meet certain health requirements and maintain a significant amount of jaw bone to qualify as a candidate for implants.

Replacing a Single Toot

Replacing a single tooth can be achieved with a conventional bridge or an implant retained crown.

The Support System

Of course, the more measures you take to preserve your natural teeth, the less chance you'll have of replacing them down the line. Eating healthy and practicing excellent oral hygiene can limit tooth decay and periodontal disease, which are both culprits of tooth loss. Avoid outside elements that cause long-term dental problems, such as smoking and chewing tobacco.

Children should take precautions toward tooth loss as well. If you notice an adult tooth has not come in yet, take the child in for a dental checkup. An X-ray will be able to tell your dentist whether the tooth is impacted or missing due to a genetic defect. To prevent knocking out a tooth, make sure children wear mouthguards during any sports activity -- and that goes for you too!

As always, be sure to have regular dental visits to prolong the life of your teeth. If you do have missing teeth. Remember, only a dentist can help you decide which dental treatment is best for you. The better your dental care, the less you'll have to worry about your teeth making an early exit!

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