Because looking good and feeling good are important to us all, it is wise to maintain a healthy and attractive smile throughout life. Adults of all ages can benefit from smile-improving dental options.
If youre missing one or more teeth, you may be particularly aware of their importance of your appearance and dental health. All your teeth work together to help you chew, speak, and smile. When teeth are missing, it is difficult to do these things. Even the loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to shift and your face to look older. Fortunately, missing teeth can be replaced, and they should be.
Choosing the correct treatment is very important. The following are three options your dentist may suggest, depending on your needs and the best way to meet them.
Implants A dental implant is much like a natural tooth, which has a root in your jawbone, topped by a crown that you can see. When you need an implant, your dentist inserts a metal post beneath your gum and into the bone. It fuses to the bone in your jaw and acts like the root of a tooth. Then your dentist makes a replacement crown on the metal post, designed to blend in with the way your own teeth look and feel. Dental implants also can be used to anchor dentures.
Most patients find that an implant is secure and stable a good replacement for their own tooth. Implants, however, are not an option for everyone. Because implants require surgery, patients should be in good health overall and have healthy gums. Further, patients either must have adequate bone to support the implant, or be good candidates for surgery to build up the area needing the implant. Patients also should be committed to very thorough oral hygiene every day, and regular dental visits. If you are considering implants, a full evaluation by your dentist will help determine if you would be a good candidate.
Fixed Bridges Another alternative is a fixed bridge (sometimes called a fixed partial denture). This is a restoration that replaces or spans the space where one or more teeth have been lost. A fixed bridge is bonded or cemented into place only a dentist can remove it.
Your appearance, dental health and the proper functioning of your mouth all are important reasons for wearing a fixed bridge. It helps maintain the natural shape of your face and may help support your lips and cheeks.
If you need an extensive fixed bridge procedure, your dentist may refer you to a prosthodontist.
Removable Bridges As its name describes, a removable bridge (sometimes called a removable partial denture) readily can be taken out of the mouth for cleaning. Although removable bridges generally are less expensive, fixed bridges, when indicated, may feel more stable and comfortable.
Depending on your situation, however, a removable bridge may be more comforatble for you. Removable bridges usually have replacement teeth attached to gum-colored plastic bases connected by metal framework. They may attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps or devices called precision attachments. A claspless removable bridge, when indicated, may provide better support and esthetics. Crowns on your natural teeth may improve the way a removable bridge fits your mouth. Ask your dentist which type is right for you.