Replacing Missing Teeth With Artificial Substitutes
Options for replacing lost teeth at your local Greenwich dental practice.
If you are very fortunate, you might go through your whole life with a full set of natural teeth. ‘Good’ genes, good oral health care and an element of luck can help with this. For the vast majority of us though, tooth loss is an almost certain occurrence at some point in our life.
Unlike with our first teeth, once an adult tooth has gone, it is gone, and unless new technologies come along which enable it, a new tooth will not grow back in its place. This then leaves the dilemma of whether we should replace the missing tooth and if so, how it should be done.
Should you leave a missing tooth?
If you have lost a visible front tooth, it is almost certain that you will want to replace this as it will affect your appearance quite dramatically. The same doesn’t apply if you lose a rear and less visible tooth. Even in this situation though, the advice of the Confidental Clinic is that you should replace it. There are many good reasons for doing so including the fact that a gap in the teeth can cause other teeth to become crooked and it also sometimes means that we put additional pressure on other teeth, causing their premature wear.
How to replace your lost tooth
There are essentially three different methods that are commonly used to replace a missing tooth. These are dentures, a bridge or dental implants. We will take a look at the pros and cons of each of those now.
Dentures are an established way of replacing a tooth that has been lost. Modern dentures are now aesthetically more pleasing than has been the case in the past, and some, like Valplast dentures, are also flexible when worn, offering an additional level of comfort for the wearer. Another benefit of dentures is that they usually don’t require an invasive procedure in order for them to be fitted. In order for them to be produced, we simply take an impression of your mouth and this is then given to the dental laboratory where your new denture will be made.
Dentures do have potential drawbacks though. Some foods may provide a challenge for them and you may find that you are opting for easier to eat foods, thereby restricting your diet, and possibly your enjoyment of food, just a little. Some wearers also find that they can be a little unstable at times. This is largely down to bone loss in the jaw that occurs when a tooth root is no longer present. This instability can also mean some soreness or irritation of the gums.
A dental bridge
Those looking for a more secure option than dentures may consider a dental bridge. This is essentially an artificial tooth that is held in place by crowns which are attached to the teeth either side of the gap. Whilst this is definitely more secure, some patients are deterred by the fact the teeth on either side of the gap have to be prepared so that the crowns can fit securely enough for a strong replacement tooth. Especially where these teeth are strong and healthy, it is understandable that some patients want to leave them intact. As with dentures, keeping a bridge clean is more difficult than with a natural tooth but is still important to prevent gum disease from occurring.
Increasingly, teeth implants are the preferred choice of patients who have lost a tooth. They are extremely strong and secure and no food will pose a challenge for them once they are fully integrated with the jawbone. Cleaning is easy too and you simply carry out the same cleaning that you would/should with a natural tooth; with good brushing, flossing and 6 monthly professional cleans from our hygienist.
Dental implants both look and feel like a natural tooth once you have become accustomed to them and they should last for around 20 years and often many more if you take good care of them.
There are a couple of ‘cons’ to dental implants. Firstly, their placement does require a small surgical procedure. This is usually a lengthier treatment than most dental procedures and can sometimes be more challenging, especially for nervous patients. The good news is that the procedure is a ‘one off’ so once it has been done, it should not be required again for that missing tooth. We also offer IV sedation for implant patients. This allows you to feel relaxed and, as many patients have told us, tends to make the procedure pass more quickly for them.
Dental implants are also not the cheapest option of replacing a missing tooth, but in our Greenwich dentist’s opinion, they are the best way. We have a number of payment plans available which can help you spread the cost over a period of time, making them more affordable practically.
If you have a missing tooth and would like to discuss any of the above options with us, please call the Confidental Clinic to arrange an initial consultation on 020 8858 1422.