The three most common ways dentists deal with missing teeth are a permanent bridge, an appliance (denture or retainer), or a permanent implant. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. They are broken down for you below.

A permanent bridge is attached to the two teeth that surround the missing one. Those two teeth will be crowned and a fake tooth is connected between the crowns – hence the name “bridge.” The advantages of a bridge are that it is fixed, stable, and feels like your own teeth.

In most cases it can be made to look just like you never had a tooth missing. The disadvantage is that you have to treat the two teeth besides the one that was extracted even if there is nothing wrong with them. Some dentists will use veneers instead of crowns, but that is less common.

A denture or retainer can be used to the same effect as a bridge. The appliance is made to fit your mouth and false teeth are attached to it. The advantages of the removable partial denture appliance are that it is a more economical way to replace missing teeth than a bridge. Also, you can replace multiple teeth with one appliance. If the span of missing teeth is three or more, or if there are no solid teeth on both sides of the missing teeth, a bridge may not work.

The disadvantages for dentures are numerous. These appliances are usually not quite as real looking as a bridge. They can be uncomfortable and take time to get used to wearing. They need to be cleaned regularly (usually overnight). Since they are removable, they can also pop out though it doesn’t happen often. If it does happen, this can be embarrassing in social situations.

An implant is a permanent solution. The false tooth will have a screw attached to the bottom that will be implanted into your jaw. There are many advantages to implants: no other teeth need to have work done on them, if you have multiple teeth missing in a row, implants can easy fill the entire gap, and implants feel just like your real teeth.

Disadvantages include the cost and time involved in getting them done. You will need to check with your insurance provider to see if they can be covered. They also take several months to completely heal and you will wear a temporary crown over the screw while that happens. This is a surgical operation so there is recovery time and potential pain to consider.

Talk to you dentist to determine which method is best for you. Not everyone is a candidate for all three. You can call The Dental Centre to schedule a consultation and we will walk you through all of your options to help you decide which one is best for your mouth.

However, if you are missing multiple teeth or all your teeth, there is a strong advantage to dental implants in that they will preserve the jawbone. Sometimes dentists don’t explain the negative long-term consequences of missing teeth, which are that your jaw gradually shrinks until you can’t wear any removable appliance. To read more about this, please see our page about facial collapse. So if you want to still be able to eat when you’re 80, you may want to consider investing in dental implants to replace those missing teeth.