A tooth or teeth may need to be removed when they have been severely affected by dental decay, infection, fracture or periodontal disease. In most cases it is important to replace these missing teeth not only for appearance reasons, but to ensure that the position of the neighbouring teeth remains stable and to ensure effective chewing function.

The three main options available for tooth replacement are:
  1. Implants
  2. Bridges
  3. Dentures

Each option has its own advantages, disadvantages and indications. Your dentist will discuss with you which options are suitable for your situation and help you make the decision on which option is right for you.

Implants

Dental implants are a very successful and accepted treatment option to replace lost or missing teeth. A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root which is constructed of a strong, biocompatible material called titanium which becomes integrated with the jaw bone – a process called osseo-integration. Implants look and feel like natural teeth and as such are cared for like natural teeth. They are a standalone solution and do not use the neighbouring teeth to support the missing ones, unlike bridges and dentures. In cases with multiple missing teeth implants can also be used to support a number of dental prostheses, such as bridges or dentures.

Bridges

A bridge is used to replace one or more natural missing teeth, thereby bridging the space between two teeth.  A dental bridge is an artificial tooth, which is fused between two dental crowns anchored to the neighbouring teeth to fill in the area left by a missing tooth. Whilst the teeth are effectively fused together, your dentist and dental technician will work to ensure that they look like natural teeth. Bridges need to use the neighbouring teeth for support so are often the treatment of choice when these neighbouring teeth are already indicated for crowns. Bridges also require careful cleaning and floss needs to be threaded underneath.

Dentures

Dentures are still a treatment option and are most frequently used when all teeth are missing (full dentures) or when implants and bridges are contra-indicated (partial dentures).  Partial dentures use metal clasps to grip around the neighbouring teeth and hold them in place. They can be made of plastic or metal. Unlike implants and bridges which are fixed into position, partial dentures are removable, which means that they are not as stable as implants and bridges and can be more uncomfortable. Your dentist and dental technician will work to make them as stable and comfortable as possible. They must be removed to clean and to clean the remaining teeth. Implants can be used to help anchor full dentures and this is now becoming the standard of care especially with lower dentures.

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