Missing Teeth

If you have a missing tooth or teeth it is possible to leave a gap, however there are good reasons to replace a missing tooth:

  • When a tooth is lost, the tooth that it used to bite against in the opposite jaw can grow outwards into a new position, and the teeth either side of the gap can tilt or drift into a new position. These new positions of teeth can cause new undesirable collisions between teeth when chewing and grinding that can lead to problems.
  • When a tooth is lost, the other teeth close by then have to take a larger force that used to be shared amongst more teeth, making it more likely for the remaining teeth to chip or fracture.
  • Having more teeth allows for better chewing and food being better broken down. Chewing is the important first step of digestion and extracting the nutrients from food

Of course there is also the cosmetic benefit of replacing a missing tooth – being able to smile and laugh without a dark gap being seen.

Below are the three methods available to replace missing teeth. Your dentist will advise you which of these options is more appropriate for you.

What are the effects of losing teeth?

Implants

Dental implants are usually the ideal way to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Although their cost is higher than the other options it is often said they offer good ‘value’ due to their longevity and function. Under normal local anaesthetic numbing a titanium implant is placed directly into the jawbone, titanium is the only metal we know of that the body does not see as something foreign, and instead of the normal bodily response to something foreign the bone instead ‘fuses’ to the titanium implant. Once this has taken place and the implant is secure then an artificial tooth or teeth can be placed onto the implant, providing a very strong and solid structure. This solution looks and functions very similarly to a real tooth.

Dental implants can be said to last approximately as long as real teeth. In the long run it is possible for the artificial tooth component to fracture, as a real tooth can, which may need to be repaired. Like real teeth it is possible to get gum disease around an implant and so it is important to have a good cleaning routine. Unlike real teeth it is not possible for an implant to get tooth decay

Learn more about Dental Implants

Bridges

A dental bridge replaces a tooth or teeth by being fixed to either one or both of the neighbouring natural teeth. The artificial tooth that fills the gap hovers over the gum very closely and provides a strong structure on which to bite on. Compared with implants, bridges have the advantage that they can usually be made in a shorter timespan and that there is not the psychological obstacle of having surgery of the gum.

The downside of bridges are that they rely on the health and support of the neighbouring teeth, and if the neighbouring teeth become compromised, the whole bridge is compromised.

There are two distinct types of bridges that exist:

  1. Conventional Bridges – these involve the bridge covering the entirety of the neighbouring support teeth. This requires significant amount of reshaping of the neighbouring teeth in the same way that a tooth is made ready for a dental crown, before the conventional bridge is cemented over them.
  2. Adhesive Bridges – these involve either no reshaping at all of a neighbouring tooth or very minimal reshaping. Adhesive bridges are only suitable in certain scenarios

Take a look at some of our work.

Learn more about Dental Bridges

Removable Dentures

Removable dentures are usually used when replacing several missing teeth and they are a more cost-effective solution than implants or bridges. They are not permanently fixed in the mouth and must be removed at night when you sleep. Artificial teeth are fixed to either a denture that has a plastic base or a denture that has a metal framework. The type of denture with a metal framework tends to be more sturdy as it is primarily supported by your remaining natural teeth whilst you are chewing, whereas the type of denture with a plastic base is primarily supported by the gums, which will compress and move a little whilst you are chewing. Dentures have been a successful way of replacing missing teeth for a long time and will continue to be used in the future, though they are not as sturdy as a fixed solution such as implants or bridges. When you have dentures it is worth paying close attention to your cleaning, as food can become trapped in between the dentures and your natural teeth. Looking on the positive side though we have many patients who are very happy with their dentures and would not want anything else!

Learn more about Removable Dentures