Surprisingly, many people believe they can avoid replacing a single missing tooth especially if it is not noticed while eating, speaking or smiling. In reality, not only will a lost tooth cause embarrassment but it can also lead to long term problems, especially with your oral health. It can cause your remaining teeth to shift towards the gap leading to painful TMJ issues. People with missing teeth also have a greater chance of suffering from gum disease, tooth decay and additional tooth loss.
If you are missing a tooth or have a tooth that is damaged and will need extracted, Dr. Drew Shulman, an experienced Philadelphia implant dentist, offers a number of replacements. He will recommend a single dental implant whenever possible to restore the health and function of your teeth. An implant secured restoration will look, feel and function similarly to a natural tooth making is the number one solution for a missing or extracted tooth.
Missing Tooth Replacement Options
Of the options available to you, it important to learn about them all so you can make an informed decision. Every patient and situation is different so there is no one size fits all solution. A single dental implant is considered the next best solution to a natural tooth however not everyone will qualify for it.
Dental Implant Supported Crown
A dental implant is actually a tiny biocompatible post that is available in many shapes, sizes and material. An implant anchored crown is comprised of three parts: the post, an abutment, and the dental crown. The post will need to be surgically placed into the jawbone at the location of the missing tooth. During the next few months, the implant post will fuse with the surrounding jaw bone to create a stable foundation for your replacement tooth. The next piece is the abutment and it is attached to the implant post. Then the dental crown is secured to that.
The dental implant process will take many months to complete and is the most expensive option. However, it is the most comfortable and permanent solution. The implant is the only option that will replace the missing tooth root keeping your jaw bone stimulated and healthy. Unlike a dental bridge, a tooth implant will not require healthy teeth to be damaged. This is the most stable, attractive and comfortable solution.
For many years, the typical way to replace a missing tooth was with a dental bridge. A bridge is a fixed dental restoration that is comprised of two dental crowns on both ends with a replacement tooth (the pontic) in between them. The crowns and the pontic are fused together to create a single restoration that will bridge the gap created by the missing tooth. The two adjacent teeth will need to be abraded to create room for the dental crowns. Then the bridge can be cemented into place, filling in the gap in your smile.
Having a bridge placed will only require two visits. It is a much more affordable solution and the process will take less than a month to complete. While this solution is cheaper and faster, it requires damaging perfectly teeth and it does not prevent bone loss.
A partial denture can also be used to replace one tooth and is easily the most economical solution. However, some partials need metal clasps to stay in place and these can be easily seen when speaking or smiling. They are also capable of moving around while speaking or eating. They will require daily additional care that includes removing them nightly to soak in a cleaning solution. While not the most popular solution, this is the cheapest one.
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