Non-implant missing tooth replacement options
Epidemiological surveys indicate that around 200 million U.S. adults are missing at least one of their permanent teeth, and several million are missing all of their natural teeth. Lacking even a single tooth can certainly affect a person’s smile and ability to eat well and speak clearly, and this has adverse effects on the oral health as well. Of course, the adverse effects of missing multiple teeth are greater, and the damage that accompanies tooth loss becomes more complex as more teeth are lost and left unreplaced. Thankfully, contemporary dentistry offers a number of options for people who want to replace missing teeth. These dental restorations range vastly in price, invasiveness, and complexity of treatment. Dental implants are considered by many to be the gold standard for tooth replacement, providing impressive aesthetic benefits while also helping maintain the health of the jawbone and oral tissues, but these can be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming and require surgery. For those who wish to avoid dental implants, there are other options.
Some patients choose fixed bridges to connect the gap between two teeth on either side of one or more missing teeth. While these still require implant surgery, the process is more affordable and less invasive than comprehensive implant treatment and is therefore a suitable compromise for many patients. When surgery is completely out of the question, patients may choose other types of bridges, like resin-retained bridges, or removable or complete partial dentures, depending on how many teeth are missing and where they’re located in the mouth. Resin-retained bridges are less invasive than fixed bridges, attaching to the teeth adjacent to the gap and using them to support the dental bridge. These types of bridges are less durable against pressure than fixed bridges, so they may not be recommended to replace teeth that are missing toward the back of the mouth, but they can be a great alternative for missing front teeth. Especially because the front teeth are so visible when a person smiles or speaks, replacing a missing front tooth can significantly boost self-esteem and will also contribute to clear speech and help keep the remaining natural teeth in their proper places. While resin-retained bridges aren’t ideal for all cases, they’re considerably less expensive than fixed bridges and can be appropriate in many cases.
Removable partial dentures and complete dentures are among the least expensive tooth replacement options. A removable partial denture can replace a small section of missing teeth, and a removable complete denture replaces an entire row of teeth, or even both the top and bottom row. These removable dental prosthetics can help with chewing and can improve the appearance of the face and smile, but they aren’t very durable and can be uncomfortable if they’re worn for an extended period or if their fit changes over time, which can happen when people are missing teeth and their bone begins to resorb from lack of use. In many cases, a removable denture can be retrofitted so that it’s stabilized by a minimal number of dental implants. Again, these require surgery but are considerably less invasive than a comprehensive dental implant treatment. Ultimately, of course, your decision about non-implant replacement options for one or more missing teeth should follow a thorough examination and consultation with your dentist, so schedule an appointment today to learn more.