Cosmetic Dentistry: What Are my Options for Replacing Missing Teeth?

Couple Smiling

For children, losing teeth is an exciting milestone; it signals that they're growing up, and of course, they look forward to the inevitable visit from the Tooth Fairy. For adults, tooth loss isn't a fun event to celebrate. Besides the obvious aesthetic impact of tooth loss, there are other lesser known consequences of losing teeth as an adult:

Psychological and social consequences. Many adults who suffer from tooth loss struggle with low self-esteem; they often avoid smiling and feel self-conscious in social situations. Tooth loss can even impact the sufferer's ability to find employment; in many industries, a professional appearance is desired.

Eating difficulties. Tooth loss can make eating a challenge, and particularly chewing healthy foods, like certain fruits and vegetables. Thus, malnutrition from lack of a proper diet is a potential side effect of tooth loss.

Bone loss. Tooth loss eventually leads to bone loss, which progresses over time. The end result is often a face with a sunken appearance, leaving the sufferer looking aged well beyond her chronological years.

Trouble with remaining teeth. The effects of tooth loss aren't exclusive to the missing teeth themselves; often, the surrounding teeth are impacted too. When tooth loss occurs, the remaining teeth are more likely to shift and drift around the mouth, potentially causing additional dental problems. Additionally, it's common for tooth loss to result in a wearing down of the remaining teeth.

Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in recent years; there are now excellent options available to replace missing teeth so that you can once again smile with confidence:

Dentures. Today's dentures aren't the dentures of your grandfather's time. When made by a reputable dental office, dentures now look like natural teeth and are specially designed to fit the patient's unique mouth comfortably. The biggest drawback to dentures, however, is the fact that they're removable and might occasionally slip or slide. Still, they're a highly cost-effective option for those missing teeth and are available as both partial and full sets.

Bridges. Bridges are an excellent treatment option for patients who are not missing a significant number of teeth. How do bridges work? First, a replacement tooth is placed in the gap previously occupied by the missing tooth. Then, crowns are placed over the teeth on either side of the replacement tooth. The replacement tooth is joined to the crowns and a stable bridge is the result. Bridges aren't necessarily the best treatment option in every scenario, however. For patients who have healthy teeth neighboring their gap, bridges might not be the go-to choice for treatment; after all, there's no need to place crowns on healthy teeth. Additionally, a bridge isn't typically a viable solution for a patient who is missing several teeth in a row, as the bridge simply wouldn't have enough midway support to be sturdy.

Implants. Perhaps the most preferred treatment method for replacing missing teeth, a dental implant is a titanium screw placed in the patient's jawbone, designed to serve as a replacement tooth root. Dental implants provide support to the surrounding bone, thereby preventing potential bone loss. Natural looking replacement teeth are then attached to the inserted screw. Patients often prefer dental implants because, unlike dentures, they are permanent fixtures in the mouth. Additionally, they are extremely sturdy and, when properly cared for, can last a lifetime. There are many other benefits of dental implants, including improved speech, improved ability to eat, maximized comfort, boosted confidence, and a significantly improved appearance.

If you've been avoiding seeking treatment for your tooth loss, now is the time to contact us. We will take your unique situation into consideration and make treatment recommendations accordingly.