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Options for Replacing Missing Teeth: Dental Restoration
A dental restoration to replace a missing tooth or teeth has many benefits. Not only does it improve the appearance of a patient's smile and increase confidence, but it can also prevent other teeth from shifting and causing problems for the person's bite. With recent advances in dentistry, people have more choices than ever for replacing teeth lost to accidents, cavities or gum disease.
Common replacement options for missing teeth
While each patient's situation is unique, there are a few basic replacement alternatives, including implants, bridges and partial dentures. Each option has its own benefits and considerations, so it is important that each dental restoration is chosen on a case-by-case basis.
An implant is a dental restoration made of a titanium screw or post that is surgically placed into the jawbone with a natural-looking crown attached to it. Implants are ideal when a patient wants to replace just one missing tooth since no adjacent teeth are impacted by this procedure. Implants can also be used to support a denture when a patient is missing a large number of teeth.
Implants require the longest time investment of any of the restorative options since the implant site must heal before a crown or denture can be installed. Also, if the patient has lost bone density due to periodontal disease, a required bone graft may make the process even lengthier.
A dental bridge is a popular restorative procedure that has been used for many years. Natural-looking crowns cap the teeth on both sides of the missing tooth, and a false tooth is attached in the middle to fill the vacant space. The unit is cemented in place, and it is not removable by the patient. This is typically a faster option than an implant, but it does involve restoring other teeth rather than just replacing the missing one. This can be ideal if the adjacent teeth have large fillings or cavities that will need to eventually be crowned anyway.
A partial denture is usually the most economical option, but unlike an implant or bridge, it is removable. The benefit of a partial denture is that multiple missing teeth can be replaced with a single appliance rather than having to do major restorative work in more than one area. However, it should be noted that the natural teeth must be strong enough to support the denture, meaning they should be free of gum disease and cavities. The patient must also be willing to clean and care for the partial denture daily.
Many patients are interested in replacing missing teeth for aesthetic and functional concerns, and with the multiple choices now available, that can be a reality for a number of people. For patients considering dental restoration, a consultation with a dentist can help determine what options are feasible. The patient should have all the alternatives discussed so that an informed decision can be made. With the right restorative options and routine dental care, individuals can now have a smile that benefits them for many years to come.
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