Replacement Options for Missing Teeth
More common than you might expect, tooth loss is often caused by untreated decay. It’s estimated that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and more than a quarter of all adults over 65 in the United States have lost them all! Adults 65 and older tend to lose teeth more easily, since factors often associated with aging, like menopause or dry mouth caused by medication usage, can increase the risk of decay.
Fortunately, if you’re missing one or more teeth, you have a plethora of replacement options to keep you smiling.
A temporary tooth can be a cost-effective solution for a missing tooth while you wait for something more permanent. Referred to as temporary partial dentures or “flippers,” this option consists of a hard, acrylic base with one or more prosthetic teeth attached.
Like a retainer, temporary partial dentures can be easily placed and removed. And not only will they fill the space created by the missing tooth or teeth, they will also prevent other teeth from shifting while you await a long-term solution.
The next step up from temporary partial dentures is a semi-permanent option known as partial dentures. While not glued in or permanent, this option offers a longer-term solution to missing teeth. This option is typically used if one or more natural teeth still remain in the upper or lower jaw.
There are two types of semi-permanent partial dentures: a traditional rigid partial with a metal base, and a lightweight, flexible partial fabricated with nylon-like materials that blend with the tissue of your mouth. Your dentist can help guide you to the best option for your case.
When seeking a permanent solution to missing teeth, one option is a bridge. A bridge is composed of two crowns for the anchoring teeth that surround the missing tooth (called abutments) with a false tooth (called a pontic) in the middle to fill the space.
If you are missing all of your teeth, full dentures can be a permanent solution. Full dentures are replacement teeth that are fitted into an acrylic base that fits over your gums. The upper denture includes a plate that covers the roof of your mouth, while the lower denture is horseshoe-shaped to allow room for your tongue.
A third option, dental implants are the closest you can get to healthy, natural teeth. They allow you to live the way you want to – confidently eating, smiling, talking, and enjoying everyday activities without worry. They can be used to replace one tooth, multiple teeth, or even to hold in a denture. HS