If you have a missing tooth, it’s important to replace it. Leaving a gap in your smile will not only damage your confidence, but it can also impact your wider health.
If you have a gap in your smile, the surrounding teeth may shift to fill the gap. This will result in cooked teeth that are much more difficult to keep clean.
The opposing teeth may also suffer, as they won’t have anything to push against when you bite down. A missing tooth in the back of your mouth can also lead you to favour chewing on one side, which could lead to facial asymmetry.
While the effects might not be immediate, the longer you leave a gap in your smile, the more likely it is that you will face adverse side effects.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a restorative treatment used to replace missing teeth. It uses a small titanium screw placed in the jaw bone to hold a healing abutment that then supports a crown, bridge or full denture. Your dentist can use a single implant or multiple implants, depending on the extent of the tooth loss.
The procedure takes place over multiple visits, starting with the process of creating a pocket in the jaw bone and then placing the implant inside. This is left to heal so that the jaw bone grows around the implant. This can take 3-6 months to heal.
After this stage, the top of the dental implant is exposed so that a healing abutment can be placed on top. The gum is contoured around the abutment to create a natural-looking finish. Finally, a crown, bridge or denture is permanently attached to the abutment and the restoration is complete.
What are the alternatives to a dental implant?
A dental implant is the most realistic restoration that will look, feel and function like a real tooth. However, dental implants are also more expensive than other restoration options. If dental implants are out of your budget, or if you are looking for a less invasive option, these are the alternatives you should consider.
A bridge is typically made from porcelain or zirconia, and it may have a metal base. It is made up of an artificial tooth attached to two crowns. The crowns are placed on the surrounding teeth with the artificial tooth in the middle. This allows you to eat and smile with confidence again, but there are some limitations to this treatment.
A bridge is a permanent restoration, which means that you will need to wear it for the rest of your life, or choose an alternative treatment. However, the bridge will not likely last forever. It will need to be replaced or repaired after around 10-15 years, so you’ll need to factor in the lifetime cost of a bridge.
Bridges will also put pressure on the surrounding teeth, which can weaken them over time. This is something to consider, particularly if the surrounding teeth are not in optimum health.
A denture is one of the most common ways to replace missing teeth. This treatment is more common if you have multiple missing teeth, such as an entire arch, but a partial denture is also possible.
With a denture, the prosthetic teeth are placed on a plate that sits against the gums. It is held in place with denture adhesive and suction from saliva. With dentures, the force of your bite is absorbed by the gums, which can make it difficult to eat. This can lead some people to avoid hard foods and this might lead to malnourishment and a lack of fibre in the diet.
The final option if you have missing teeth is to do nothing at all. This is not advised, as it will likely lead to dental problems further down the road. However, if you are on a tight budget and cannot afford the restorations listed above, it is certainly an option.
If you choose to do nothing, you will need to commit to regular checkups to make sure the surrounding teeth are healthy. You should also pay close attention when you are brushing to ensure you get all surfaces of your teeth.
There are plenty of alternatives to a dental implant if the treatment doesn’t appeal to you or if it is simply outside of your budget. If you are missing a tooth, the easiest option is to do nothing, but there will be long-term health implications to consider in this instance.
If you would like to restore your smile and bite, you can choose between a bridge or a partial denture, depending on your preferences. The first step to restoring your smile is to book a consultation with our team.