If you are missing one or more teeth, you may be considering what options you have for tooth replacement. Decayed or missing teeth can be painful and may limit your confidence. Replacing the teeth may be your best option to improve your dental hygiene and avoid losing more teeth. At The Happy Tooth in Chapel Hill, NC we have a variety of tooth replacement options to help you get your life back.
Do You Need Tooth Replacement?
Missing one or more teeth can lead to a lower quality of life. Smiling for a photo can be difficult, and maintaining a healthy and diverse diet can be impossible with missing or decayed teeth. Replacement teeth can be an option for patients with missing teeth and patients with advanced periodontal disease who are at risk of losing teeth to decay.
What Are the Benefits?
Replacing missing and decayed teeth can improve the appearance of a patient’s smile, making the patient more confident. It can be easier to enjoy foods and maintain a healthy diet with a mouth full of healthy teeth thanks to replacement teeth. Patients suffering from decay and gum disease can improve their oral hygiene and health with dental replacements. Patients with replacement teeth may improve their speech and can live life more comfortably. Replacement teeth are durable and can last for years.
Replacing One or More Teeth vs Full Replacement
Patients suffering from periodontal disease may lose one or more teeth to decay. Physical trauma, smoking, and poor dental hygiene can also cause a loss of one or more teeth. Patients missing one or more teeth may need only those teeth replaced, or they can have all remaining teeth extracted and replaced if it is determined to be beneficial. Decay and periodontal disease left untreated can lead to the need for a full replacement of the teeth. Full replacements are common in older patients due to decay as patients age.
Options Available for Replacement
Dentures are a good option for the full replacement of teeth that can be removed if needed. Dentures require care and maintenance but are durable and cost less than many other tooth replacement options. For patients with natural teeth remaining, but wanting to use full dentures over partial dentures, the remaining teeth must be removed. Using immediate full dentures will allow patients to wear the dentures while the gums heal, but the more cost-effective conventional dentures will require some time for the gums to heal.
Partial dentures are a fairly cost-effective way to replace multiple missing teeth with a removable set of teeth. These dentures are not meant to replace the entire row of teeth like full dentures; however, partial dentures can be used to replace several teeth on the top or bottom row.
The false teeth are connected by a metal bridge with a plastic covering that is colored to blend in with the gums. The existing teeth that are still healthy and will be left in the mouth are fit into spaces where they are exposed, and the false teeth fill in the gaps. Partial dentures cost more than full dentures and still require maintenance and care, but they are a good option for patients with healthy teeth that they do not want to be extracted.
Dental implants are a permanent prosthetic tooth or set of teeth. They can be used to replace one or more teeth on the top or bottom row. Orthodontists and patients prefer dental implants because they provide structural support for the jaw and maintain bone health. The structure helps patients maintain a healthy jaw appearance and keeps patients’ speech from degrading.
Dental implants are more durable than dentures, often lasting as many as 25 years. Dental implants look much like natural teeth and require the same typical care in the form of flossing and brushing. Patients can maintain a quality of life consistent with natural teeth thanks to dental implants.
Crown and Post
A crown and post is a type of dental prosthetic that is commonly used in patients with one or more decaying teeth. A crown is a durable prosthetic tooth cap that is meant to save the tooth. The crown is molded from the natural tooth and can last between 7 and 10 years. The teeth are replaced individually with the crown and post replacement procedure, and the replacement usually only takes two office visits to complete.
The orthodontist will remove any decay, take a mold of the tooth, replace the tooth with a post, and affix a temporary crown on the tooth during the first visit. The second visit, the orthodontist will mount the permanent crown made of porcelain, metal, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. The crown is made to match a patient’s replaced tooth and has a precise fit.
The name bridge comes from the fact that this device bridges the gaps between two healthy teeth. Bridges can be used to replace missing teeth on the top or bottom row of the mouth. The bridge is a cost-effective and permanent replacement option for one or more teeth. During the first visit, an orthodontist will ensure that the bridge fits properly, the natural teeth are prepared, and a mold is taken of the teeth. A temporary replacement will be used until the patient’s second visit.
Bridges come in three varieties depending on the patient’s needs and the teeth that are missing. Traditional bridges are the most common form of bridge offered in treatment and are made of strong porcelain-fused-to-metal. A traditional bridge uses two crowns that hold a prosthetic tooth between them to fill the gap left by one or more missing teeth. Cantilever bridges are similar to traditional bridges but are used when only one adjacent abutment can hold the prosthetic in place. Maryland bridges are prosthetics supported by a metal framework rather than crowns.
Veneers are made of thin resin or ceramic that fit over the existing teeth and are mostly used for aesthetic reasons. A benefit of veneers is that they typically do not require movement or removal of the natural teeth. Veneers come in two varieties: direct and indirect depending on the needs of the patient.
Direct veneers are the less durable option of the two and require significant time to apply during an office visit. The orthodontist will apply resin directly to the teeth and will likely need to remove part of the existing tooth. Indirect veneers are durable and made of resin composite or ceramic. Patients will be required to visit the office twice, and the veneers are created in a laboratory. Ceramic veneers look more natural and resist stains, but they may require the removal of more material than the thinner resin composite veneers.
Who Is Eligible for Tooth Replacement?
Replacing one, several, or all teeth is a suitable solution for most healthy patients. Patients must commit to improving and maintaining adequate levels of hygiene after the replacement to ensure the longevity of the implant. Certain procedures will require a suitable amount of bone and gum health to secure the prosthetic.
Which Replacement Option Should You Choose for Your Teeth?
When considering a replacement option for your tooth or teeth, it is best to consult with a professional. Your orthodontist can help you determine which teeth may be saved and which teeth need to be replaced with a prosthetic. Choosing a permanent replacement can help maintain the jaw structure and look more natural. Permanent replacement options may not be suited for patients who are heavy smokers, have poor dental hygiene, or other conditions, so an orthodontist may need to evaluate the suitability of a permanent replacement on a per case basis.
Ready for a Better Smile?
If you are ready to enjoy a full smile again, visit The Happy Tooth in Chapel Hill, NC for an initial consultation. We can help you find the best replacement option to provide you with a healthy smile.