Missing Teeth – Your Options explained
A guide to missing teeth
Missing teeth can cause a range of problems. The main issues that patients report are: embarrassment when smiling and an inability to chew, but there are many less obvious consequences and changes that will occur over time and these can impact upon your long-term health.
Most of the time, teeth are missing because they have been extracted for some reason or another: for example, a fracture, un-restorable decay or gum disease. However on occasions teeth simply don’t grow. Your options are the same except when the tooth has been identified as missing during development… orthodontics can move the other teeth to close the space. This may be an appropriate course of action.
Why choose Dr Workman to look after you?
Not only is Dr Workman a very good dentist, he has genuine caring nature and always makes sure you feel truly looked after. This is why he has such a loyal following of, families, young professionals right through to our older generation. With over 12 years experience, he is young, passionate, great at what he does and has an excellent aesthetic eye. If you would like a dental professional you can really trust, who places your health, happiness and comfort as an absolute priority, then you would be hard pushed to look any further. If you have typed ‘dentist near me’ then our state of the art Maroubra dental practice won’t be far away.
Why is it important to replace missing teeth?
It is more important than you think to replace missing teeth.
If the missing tooth is ‘in your smile’ you will notice it immediately and for most people this is a deal breaker: you simply have to get the space filled: not doing so can considerably affect social interaction and self-confidence. You may also notice that it’s more difficult to chew or that you begin to favour one side of your mouth, thus putting extra stress on your other teeth. This can compound over time.
Less obvious issues that can arise are as follows:
1. Over-eruption of opposing teeth- without a tooth to balance the bite (this occurs over a long period of time) the root surface is exposed, making teeth much harder to clean; problems are likely to ensue.
2. Tilting of the teeth either side- again, this will making cleaning trickier, and the likelihood of problems greater.
3. Excessive wear on other teeth- now certain teeth are attempting to do the work of more than one tooth, thus absorbing extra pressure. This makes the wear and failure of the existing restorations more likely.
4. TMJD- A disorder of the bite and jaw joint – complex in susceptible individuals.
5. Loss of support for the face- do you wish to stay looking young? Then you need the proper support for your face and this means having a full compliment of teeth and bone. Less support means more sagging and the folding of the facial skin, leading to an increase in wrinkles and the loss of a full youthful profile.
6. More teeth can be lost- something strange often happens when you spend time and money restoring a missing tooth… the importance of looking after your teeth takes an unexpected turn for the better…you are likely to try and prevent a repeat episode!
Conversely take a tooth out and leave it: over time you will grow to live with it and become more likely to just have another one out if the situation arises again. Thus you begin the slippery slope of no return and suddenly filling multiple teeth with a fixed restoration such as an implant or crown and associated bridge work may become necessary. The cost can be prohibitively expensive and so before you know it… you are forced to wear a denture.
Reasons you may lose a tooth?
You may need a tooth removed for many different reasons: a tooth may not be saveable because it has deteriorated too far much, or because you can’t afford the treatment required to save it e.g. choosing an extraction over a root canal.
Other reasons may include:
• Decay (dental caries)
• Gum disease
• Cracked tooth
• Trauma e.g. fractured or knocked out teeth
• Can’t afford a root canal
• Root canal treatment hasn’t been successful
• To create space when your teeth are crowded (as part of orthodontic treatment)
If you have a missing tooth what should you do?
See Dr Jamie for a consultation, or you can book in for a check up/ clean and discuss your needs here. He will take you through all the different treatment options and discuss the most appropriate solutions for your situation.
This will probably involve assessing your bone with x-rays, checking the quality of the teeth either side and taking into account the rest of the mouth: this is really important.
For example if you have other teeth that may also be lost in the near future, you need a plan that takes this into account … selecting a good dentist is critical.
You will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and look at the pros and cons of each before making a decision that works for you. There is a lot to consider and it ‘s a process that shouldn’t be rushed.
Or, rewind the clock and try not to lose a tooth in the first place. It’s really worth mentioning that most issues are largely preventable…if you are regularly seeing a dentist and keeping your hygiene (brushing and flossing) and diet in check. Catching things early such as decay or gum disease can make a huge difference and wearing a properly fitted dentist mouthguard or splint to protect you from grinding is also a key factor in preventing problems arising.
What are the treatment options for missing teeth?
There are three basic options that can be adapted for most situations, budgets and expectations.
They can be divided into fixed options- those that stay in your mouth i.e. a bridge or an implant and removable options such as some form of denture: these will need to be taken out for cleaning.
Fixed options are highly aesthetic, convenient and feel part of your normal mouth: they do however come with a much higher price tag and aren’t suitable for all situations.
For more information you can click the links below but here’s a quick summary from Dr Jamie:
a. Bridges- are essentially two crowns that have a fake tooth in the middle in order to fill the space. They are a good solution when the teeth either side are heavily restored, thus benefiting from the crowns which will to protect them (a crown, of course, may already be present). A bridge can also be placed across two implants: this is known as an implant bridge.
b. Implants- these use a titanium screw, placed in the jaw thus replacing the root of the tooth; they have a crown attached to replace the tooth itself. The advantage here is that we do not need to touch the teeth either side presuming that they are in good condition- largely healthy and unrestored. To be successful, it is important that there is enough good bone in which to place the implant.
c. Dentures- these can be made of acrylic, cobalt chrome or a flexible material. As with a bridge, dentures can be combined with implants, or help support the denture in cases where multiple teeth are missing and the stability of the denture is in question. Dentures are the most economical of all the options, particularly when replacing multiple teeth. They are also good if you are likely to lose more teeth, as teeth can often be added without too much complication. Dentures, however,often have a little negative stigma attached, and give the least natural feeling of all the options: often taking some time getting used to.
If the space is only very small, it may be possible to close the gap-, either with dental bonding, a crown or using orthodontic treatment. If you have more than one space it may be necessary to use a combination of approaches.
Which is the best option for me?
That’s the million-dollar question. It’s important to understand, that not every treatment may be available from a dental price point perspective.
If you have a single missing tooth, then, if possible a fixed option is definitely the way to go i.e. a bridge or dental implant with a crown on top.
Replacing multiple teeth is much more complex and requires significantly more treatment planning as a range of fixed methods may be necessary. When considering your options and planning for the future, more time will be required if your mouth is likely to change.
A bridge can be completed in a couple of weeks, a denture in under a month and an implant may take 6 months to the final restoration- since a period of integration between the bone and the implant is often needed before loading. In the case of an implant, a temporary solution may be needed if the missing tooth is visible at the front of the mouth: such as a temporary implant crown or removable tooth. Since this incurs an extra charge, your back teeth are often simply left until sufficient healing has occurred before restoring the top portion of the tooth.
There are many factors to consider in making a decision to replace your missing teeth. The first one is, ‘Do you want to relace it? ‘ The second being- finding a dentist who you trust, and who has your best interests and long term health at heart.
Every single case is different and there is no one size fits all approaches. There are patient factors, such as your wants, desires, expectations and finances; health factors such as your medical history; mouth factors such as the supporting teeth, other teeth, your bite, smile, hygiene and habits and dentist factors, such as training and preference.
|Treatments||Dental bridges | Partial dentures | Dental implants|
|Cost||See treatment page for details|
- Dr Jamie’s education site; Jamiethedentist.com where you can hear him speak and read about TOPIC in a lot more detail.
- These other excellent resources: