If you have missing teeth, you may choose to do nothing and leave the space empty. Alternatively, you may want to replace them.
Treatment options include the following:
- Bridges - False teeth that are fixed onto adjacent natural teeth
- Dentures (false teeth) - Removable plastic or metal frameworks that carry false teeth
The most appropriate treatment for you will depend on the number of teeth you have missing. It will also depend on where teeth are missing in your mouth and the condition of any remaining teeth. Your dentist will help you decide which option is best for you.
Teeth can also be replaced with a fixed bridge if there are teeth in the area that are adequate in number and sufficiently healthy and strong to support the artificial teeth. In order to fabricate a bridge, the adjacent teeth are prepared by reducing their size (or cut down) to remove all the enamel, making room for the prosthetic tooth restoration. A prosthetic tooth (or teeth) can be suspended between adjacent teeth in this way to provide a functional and cosmetic replacement for the missing tooth.
The limitation of this form of treatment has to do with the irreversible preparation of the adjacent (abutment) teeth for support. This exposes them to the risk of trauma to their nerves, raising the risk of requiring root canal treatment. Long-term, fixed bridges between natural teeth have an average life expectancy of 10-12 years before requiring replacement. Replacement of fixed bridges often entails further treatment as the abutment or supporting teeth have been further compromised over time by advancing dental disease (such as cavities or periodontal bone loss).
In certain cases it is possible to use a resin bonded bridge which either have minimal preparation of the adjacent teeth or in some cases no preparation. The application of this treatment option is limited however if used with the correct planning this option of treatment can be very successful.
Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic), nylon or metal. They fit snugly over the gums to replace missing teeth and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps.
Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle. Sometimes, all the teeth need to be removed and replaced.
You may therefore need either:
- complete dentures (a full set) – which replace all your upper or lower teeth, or
- partial dentures – which replace just one tooth or a few missing teeth
- Partial dentures can be made :
- Acrylic with or without metal clasps
- Cobalt Chrome, are self cleansing
- Flexi Dentures avoid the need for metal clasps and are a much tighter fit
Dentures can help to prevent problems with eating and speech and, if you need complete dentures, they can also improve the appearance of your smile and give you confidence.