Missing teeth can be devastating to your self-esteem, making you embarrassed to smile or even to be seen in public. They can also cause numerous additional issues, from trouble chewing to drifting of your remaining teeth and even changes in the shape of your face. Fortunately, dental technology provides three options for replacing your missing teeth and restoring your confidence.
Dental implants are the newest form of restorative technology, and also the closest replica of an actual tooth. An implant is a permanently attached artificial tooth. A titanium screw is placed in the tooth socket and covered with a crown that matches your existing teeth. Implants are generally considered the most durable and maintenance-free solution, and the failure rate is very low. However, dental implants are the most expensive option, and some dental insurance plans will not cover the cost. Payment plans and credit options are available, so do not hesitate to ask for more information. If you have many missing teeth, it is possible to create a separate dental implant for each one. In addition, implants can be combined with dental bridges for a comprehensive and reasonably cost-effective solution.
A dental bridge is a structure that literally bridges the gap between functional teeth. The bridge is anchored at each end to an existing tooth or a dental implant, and one or more carefully crafted filler teeth are placed in the spots where your natural teeth are missing. Sometimes a long bridge is used to cover multiple gaps, while in other cases separate bridges are the better option. Dental bridges are permanently attached and restore normal mouth function. Most people adapt quickly to a bridge and have few, if any, changes in eating habits or speech patterns after placement. Bridges are covered by most dental insurance plans. Be sure to talk to your dentist about proper oral hygiene following the placement of a bridge.
A partial denture is a removable appliance that replaces one or more missing teeth. Rather than being permanently cemented to your existing teeth or an implant, a partial denture uses clasps to connect to the surrounding teeth. Historically, partial dentures were often considered painful and unsightly due to the nature of the metal clasps. Today there are numerous options for strong and secure partials with virtually hidden clasps. Newer materials minimize mouth irritation, and most people are able to adapt well to the partial. However, since the
partial denture is removable, it will require changes to your oral hygiene routine. Partials are often the least expensive alternative and are usually covered by dental insurance.
Making the Decision
No two people are the same. Each person’s dental situation, personality, needs and desires are somewhat different. Therefore, choosing the right replacement option for missing teeth is a highly personalized decision. Talk to your dentist about your concerns and work as a team to find the right solution for you.
If you are unsure what you prefer, discuss your thoughts with your dentist. A temporary partial denture, also known as a flipper, can often be placed while you take the time that you need to think through your options. Also keep in mind that only implants are a permanent choice. A partial denture can be removed and replaced with a bridge or an implant. A bridge can be removed and replaced with a partial denture or an implant and two single crowns on the adjacent teeth. Knowing that you can always change your mind can help alleviate some of the fear of the unknown and increase your confidence in making a decision for now.
Whatever your thoughts and feelings, don’t put off seeing the dentist. Dental problems tend to worsen over time, and something that could be solved easily and inexpensively could gradually turn into a costly and complicated repair. All of the options for replacing missing teeth work well for many people, and all are preferable to allowing the lack of teeth to cause further complications.
Family Dental Care of Bellevue provides quality dental care to patients and their families. Call us today at 425-643-5778 to see how we can help improve your smile.