Losing a tooth is not a pleasant experience and for most of us, we would like to have it replaced.
The problems with leaving a tooth missing are:
- Ugly if it is visible when you talk and smile - can affect your self confidence and social standing
- Decreased chewing efficiency - leading to increase stress on muscles and jaw joints
- Increased stress on your remaining teeth - can lead to increased wear, cracks and fractures
- Drifting of other teeth into the empty space - will lead to further decrease in chewing efficiency
- Decrease in amount of jaw bone - will complicate matters if you want to replace a tooth in the future
There are 3 main options in replacing a missing tooth, which are implants, bridges and dentures. Only implants and bridges are permanently fixed in your mouth and provide the most comfort. Dentures will need to be removed and cleaned daily.
Should you replace your missing tooth with a bridge or implant? Generally, an implant is the better option. The main benefits of an implant are:
- Adjacent teeth are not signficantly altered, if at all
- Feels and looks most like natural teeth
However, implants are not always possible and sometimes a bridge is a better option. Common situations that a bridge is preferable are:
- The adjacent teeth require crowns
- The amount and quality of jaw bone is insufficient to place an implant predictably
Choosing what to do can be confusing so it is best to discuss with your dentist what is best for you. Every situation is unique and sometimes both are perfectly good options!