Tooth loss: Various treatment options for missing teeth

man with missing teeth

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

August 25, 2021

With major health issues like diabetes and heart issues who really cares about oral health? None fear oral issues and the problems that come along with them. But will you be surprised to hear that our overall systemic health and oral health are connected?

Can tooth loss affect your overall health?

Strange but yes, it can definitely have an impact on your health. Tooth loss is one major factor that impacts a person’s day-to-day activity and health in an adverse way. Our teeth help us in chewing food, to speak, aids in shaping our face, and gives aesthetically a confident smile. So, a missing tooth can disrupt all the above functions. Furthermore, if chewing is hampered so does your digestion. And with hampered digestion, there come so many health problems.

A missing tooth or teeth can be due to a decayed tooth, loose teeth, infections of the gums, failed root canal treatments, fracture, knocked out tooth, etc. No matter what the reason, replacing it, will save you from further complicated dental issues.

Why is replacing your teeth important?

A tooth once lost is a permanent loss, said who? Not replacing your missing teeth will just make it worse for you, downtime. Missing teeth call in for spacing between teeth, problems like bone loss, shifting of the other teeth, mal-alignment of other teeth, less chewing action thus hampering digestion, hampered aesthetics and aged look, etc. Replacing your teeth will help avoid all these problems from occurring in the first place. So consult with your dentist and consider your options for replacing your missing teeth best suited for you.

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Bridges for missing tooth

Dental bridges for missing tooth is a fixed option for replacing 1-2 missing teeth. This one is for you if you are scared or you simply want to avoid surgical implants. The good news about dental bridges is that it does not involve any surgeries or prior investigations. It’s a simple procedure that involves cutting healthy adjacent teeth and using them as supports to fabricate an artificial tooth.

set-dentures-water

Dentures for missing teeth

We all must have seen a denture in our lifetime. We have seen either our grandparents or parents use them and keep them always immersed in water. Not many patients really like dentures as a convenient way of replacing natural missing teeth as they are not very easy to use and very uncomfortable. But sometimes this is the only option left in case a bridge or implant is not possible.

Dentures are fabricated for cases when all teeth are missing (complete dentures) as well as in cases when only a few teeth are missing (partial dentures). Dentures are actually made depending on how many and specifically which teeth are missing.

These can be made fixed or removable as per your wish. Fixed dentures are fixed into the bone with the help of implants whereas removable ones can be removed and worn by the patient at his/her convenience. Nowadays removable flexible dentures are also available to fix missing teeth. These are more flexible, tight-fit, and comfortable to use.

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Which denture is best for you?

A prosthodontist is the best to tell you which option is best for you after studying your case and considering certain factors such as area of tooth loss, number of teeth missing, patient’s age, health, socioeconomic status, etc. The final call depends on the decision of the patient and all boils down to what you are comfortable with.

  • Fixed Partial Denture
  • Removable Partial Denture

Fixed partial denture

These are the same as dental bridges. Bridges can only be placed when an area of the missing tooth is marked with a healthy and strong tooth on each side.

When the site of missing teeth is healed, adjacent tooth surfaces on either side are trimmed. Then an impression is made, and a cast is prepared. A fixed partial denture is customized onto this cast in the lab. During the next sitting, the denture placed and is fixed on the adjacent tooth with cement.

Your dentist selects either metal, ceramic, or a combination of dental materials, depending on the area of the missing tooth/ teeth. Full metal crowns are the cheapest of all. Zirconia crowns and bridges give aesthetically the best results but are also expensive among the rest.

In cases where no healthy teeth are present for bridge support, implants are inserted as supports inside the bone. These are Implant-supported Fixed Partial Dentures, in which dentures are placed onto the implants.

Merits

  • Looks and functions like normal teeth.
  • Cheaper than implants.
  • Chances of breakage are less.

Demerits

  • Adjacent natural, healthy tooth surfaces are sacrificed.
  • Difficulty in cleaning underneath the bridge inducing bacteria and plaque accumulation which in turn causes infection or decay.

Removable partial denture

These dentures can be easily removed and worn by the patient. These dentures consist basically of a base plate that is pink, mimicking the color of the gums onto which teeth are fabricated. Sometimes these dentures are made with a clasp that lies on adjacent teeth for support and retention. The whole procedure requires about 4-5 appointments.

Now highly flexible, removable partial dentures are available which provides ease in placement and tight fit also reducing the chance of breakage. Like Fixed Partial Dentures, implant-supported Removable Dentures are also available.

Merits

  • Looks and feels natural
  • Affordable
  • Easy to repair and replace
  • Can be removed and cleaned.

Demerits

  • It’s always a hassle to use these unless you are used to wearing them.
  • New denture wearers need denture counselling
  • These can break easily if accidentally dropped.
  • Just like your glasses, these dentures could easily get lost or misplaced.

Post Treatment Care

Initially, it is very difficult to adjust to dentures. This happens mainly with removable dentures as it takes time to get used to them. Consult with your dentist if you face any trouble with the dentures like pricking sensations or ulcers, loose dentures, very tight dentures, rocking dentures, etc. There are always ways to fix them, and one should not compromise in wearing them. Keep your dentures absolutely clean and immerse them in water when not in use.

teeth-implant-structure

Why go for implants?

Dental implants are a permanent remedy for missing teeth or teeth and have a high success rate post-treatment. These do not require much maintenance and are the best options for replacing your missing teeth as they closely resemble natural teeth.

Implants are titanium screws or posts which are inserted inside the jaw bone by a small surgical procedure. Patients with good bone density and strength, good oral hygiene with no underlying medical conditions like diabetes and heart issues are best suited for implants. Just like how a fractured bone heals on its own, similarly once placed the implant screw, then stimulates the bone growth around it. Once this healing is complete, an artificial tooth (crown) is placed over the post.

Merits

  • Permanent solution, lasts for decades with good prognosis.
  • Functions and feels like normal teeth.
  • Adjacent tooth surface is not sacrificed.

Demerits

  • Success of treatments is low in patients with underlying medical conditions
  • Need healthy bone to place implants.
  • Involves surgery
  • Medical reports and bone scans are a must prior to placing implants
  • Expensive when compared to other treatment options.

Highlights

  • Oral health and overall health go hand in hand.
  • The consequences of missing teeth can have a negative impact on the entire alignment of your teeth.
  • With so many options available one should consider replacing missing teeth as early as possible.
  • Your dentist is the best to decide which replacement option is better for you.

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Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.
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