Do you mind the gap? No, we’re not talking about the London Tube’s signature warning—we’re talking about your oral health! If you have a bothersome gap in your smile caused by a missing tooth, you’ll be pleased to learn that you have several options to revamp your smile. Your first step should be consulting your dentist, of course, but if you want to consider potential solutions before your appointment, we’re here to help. Scroll down to learn how to replace a missing tooth.
How to Replace a Missing Tooth
As you may already know, a missing tooth isn’t just a cosmetic flaw; the loss of a tooth can have a significant impact on your oral health as well. For example, if multiple teeth are lost and not replaced, you may experience significant jawbone loss. In addition, neighboring teeth may begin to drift in and fill the gap, negatively affecting your smile and potentially causing tooth decay (due to discrepancies in the gum tissue).
For these reasons as well as many others, your dentist will likely recommend that you have your missing tooth replaced as soon as possible. You’ll be presented with several options, including the following:
Implant: An implant is a post that is surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw (depending on the location of the gap), where it anchors a replacement tooth. Implants are sturdy and safe, however they can only be used in patients who are healthy and have sufficient bone structure. Implants look very natural and inconspicuous, and they can last for decades with proper care.
Fixed Bridge: A fixed bridge is anchored to the teeth surrounding the missing tooth, and it holds a pontic (a replacement tooth) in the gap. The bridging device is permanently attached to the teeth, so it cannot be removed and is very stable. However, in order to create the bridge, the two teeth on either side of the gap will need to be shaved down and capped with a crown. If you don’t have enough bone for an implant or you would like your adjacent teeth to be crowned (if they’re quite damaged, for example), a fixed bridge is a great way to replace your missing tooth.
Removable Partial Denture: If you would prefer a temporary solution, consider using a removable partial denture. This device will hook onto your natural teeth and fill the gap with an artificial tooth. Although a removable bridge is less expensive and less invasive when compared to other options, it is also more likely to break or become lost. In addition, its appearance is not as natural as an implant or a fixed bridge.
Snap-On Smile: A Snap-On Smile is a removable device designed to fit over your natural teeth, creating the illusion of a perfect smile. It is inexpensive and can be used as a temporary or permanent solution to a missing tooth (in addition to a wide array of other cosmetic flaws). The device will be customized to fit your mouth, creating a natural look, and it will cover all of your teeth (not just the gap caused by the missing tooth). Because it isn’t permanent or invasive, it can be used by people of all ages.