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Weekly What If

What If I'm Missing a Tooth?

Written by Dr. Adam T. Bond Jun 18 • 4 minute read

Most of us will likely never wake up to find we are suddenly missing a tooth. However, according to the American College of Prosthodontists, an estimated 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and over 36 million Americans are missing all their teeth. And this problem gets older as we age; 30 percent of adults between 65-74 years old have no natural teeth.

There are several reason why people may be missing teeth, the most common reasons are tooth decay, gum disease or trauma. People who smoke or take medications that may cause dry mouth are at increased risk of losing teeth due to decay and gum disease. Most tooth loss can be prevented with proper home care and regular dental cleanings and checkups. But what if you have already lost a tooth?

Missing teeth can not only have a negative impact on your appearance, but on your ability to speak or eat properly. Left untreated, missing teeth can cause surrounding teeth to shift into the open space, affecting the way you chew and making it more difficult to clean which can lead to decay and bone loss. A missing tooth can also result in damage to the remaining teeth as they are now left to do more work during chewing.  

The good news is you do not have to go without teeth; there are several replacement options, from a single tooth to full mouth replacement. Your individual condition, goals and budget will factor in to which option will be best for you. Below are some of the possible options to replace missing teeth.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth and also provide a fixed solution to having removable partial or complete dentures. Implants provide excellent support and stability for these dental appliances.

Dental implants are artificial roots and teeth (usually titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone by a dentist or Periodontist - a specialist of the gums and supporting bone.  The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking and often enhance or restore a patient’s smile!

Dental implants can also be used to stabilize or even secure a denture.

Dental implants are strong and durable and will last many years.  On occasion, they will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear.

Fixed Bridge

A dental bridge is a fixed (non-removable) appliance and is an excellent way to replace missing teeth.

There are several types of bridges.  You and your dentist will discuss the best options for your particular case.  The “traditional bridge” is the most popular type and is usually made of porcelain fused to metal.  This type of bridge consists to two crowns that go over two anchoring teeth (abutment teeth) and are attached to pontics (artificial teeth), filling the gap created by one or more missing teeth.

Dental bridges are highly durable and will last many years, however they may need replacement or need to be re-cemented due to normal wear.

Partial or Full Dentures

A denture is a removable dental appliance replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissue.  They are made to closely resemble your natural teeth and may even enhance your smile.

There are two types of dentures - complete and partial dentures.  Complete dentures are used when all of the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.  A Partial denture not only fills in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from shifting.

A Complete denture may be either “conventional” or “immediate.”  A conventional type is made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has healed, usually taking 4 to 6 weeks.  During this time the patient will go without teeth.  Immediate dentures are made in advance and immediately placed after the teeth are removed, thus preventing the patient from having to be without teeth during the healing process.  Once the tissues shrink and heal, adjustments will have to be made.

Dentures are very durable appliances and will last many years, but may have to be remade, repaired, or readjusted due to normal wear.

Which option is best? 

Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you are interested to know which option would work best for you, call today for any appointment. We would be more than happy to discuss your needs. Have a great weekend!


Dr. Bond

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