Teeth can last a lifetime with good oral care, but most people lose several teeth as they get older, through injury, tooth decay, gum disease and other causes.
If you're missing any teeth, your dentist will recommend filling the gap. Not only will this restore your smile and help you to eat normally, but you'll also be protecting the teeth on either side of the gap that need support to stay properly aligned.
There are three main options for replacing a missing tooth:
- Dental implants
- Dental bridges
Each one has its pros and cons that can make them the best choice for different people. Your dentist can give you all the information you need about what these procedures involve and what they cost so you can make an informed decision about what's right for you.
1. Dental implants
Implants are the only option that offer full tooth restoration, including the root. A titanium implant is placed in the jaw bone by an oral surgeon to support a fixed crown, bridge or removable denture.
Implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth or all of the teeth in your upper or lower jaw (full arch implants). As well as being exceptionally strong and long lasting, implants also stimulate bone development in the jaw, similar to a natural tooth.
The downsides are that implants tend to be a more expensive option and the surgery is more invasive, usually requiring a number of appointments. You may not be a candidate for implants if you have poor oral health or certain medical conditions.
2. Dental bridge
Less invasive than a dental implant, a bridge fills the gap left by a missing tooth or teeth, but it doesn't replace the root, so no surgery is involved. Instead, the bridge is supported by crowns placed over the teeth on either side.
Bridges and crowns are usually made from porcelain or ceramic that resembles natural tooth enamel. Metal bridges are stronger, but are less popular for their unnatural appearance. Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) bridges are a middle ground that balances aesthetics and durability.
Usually the most affordable option, dentures can replace a single tooth or several teeth (partial dentures) or all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw (full dentures). They are usually removable and supported by suction, metal clasps or an existing dental implant.
Modern dentures look more realistic than those of the past, but you may need to adjust your diet or lifestyle to avoid damaging them, which isn't usually the case for a bridge or implant. Dentures may also need to be replaced sooner and must be cared for daily.
Tooth replacement in Auckland
If you want to know more about implants, bridges or other treatments to restore your smile, get in touch with our team at St Heliers Dental Centre.