close up of smileMissing teeth are often a result of trauma, gum disease, and/or tooth decay. Fortunately, dentists offer safe and effective solutions so patients can avoid the health, mental health, physical, and sociological consequences that come from having missing teeth, such as:

  • Jawbone loss
  • Shifting teeth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Speech issues
  • Early aging
  • Low self-esteem
  • Missed job opportunities

In this blog, we’ll explain the two most popular and most effective tooth replacement options available to patients with missing teeth.

Dental Bridge

A dental bridge does just what you would expect it to do—it bridges the gap between the patient’s natural teeth. A traditional dental bridge, the most common type, is made up of two dental crowns on either side of one, two, or three prosthetic teeth, also called a pontic.

The dentist must remove a small amount of dental enamel from the patients’ adjacent teeth for the crowns to fit properly and appear natural. Once the enamel is removed, the crowns are secured to the teeth and the pontic is suspended between the two teeth.

Here are the three other types of dental bridges:

  • Cantilever: This option is for patients with only one adjacent tooth on either side of their missing tooth. The cantilever bridge consists of one dental crown and one, two, or three pontics. Though this dental bridge isn’t as strong as a traditional dental bridge, it is sometimes the patient’s only option.
  • Maryland: Instead of dental crowns, Maryland bridges have a metal framework on each side of the pontic that is attached to the back of the adjacent teeth. This option isn’t very reliable, but it allows the patient to maintain their natural tooth structures.
  • Implant-supported: Of all four dental bridge types, this is the strongest. Implant-supported bridges are held in place by dental implants and are mostly used for patients with several missing teeth in a row.

Some dentists don’t offer cantilever and Maryland dental bridges because of their lack of effectiveness and reliability. These dentists believe in providing patients with only the most long-lasting tooth replacement options.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a great option for patients with just one missing tooth or who have an entire arch of missing teeth. This tooth replacement option has become increasingly popular for several reasons, including:

  • Its 95-98 percent success rate.
  • Its life-long effects.
  • Its ability to stimulate and regrow the jawbone.
  • Its natural appearance.

Here’s how dental implants work:

When you arrive at the dentist’s office for an initial consultation, he or she should work with a certified periodontist to create a treatment plan to restore your smile. This consists of evaluating your jawbone and finding the perfect placement for the dental implant(s). Once the plan is created, the dentist will schedule your first appointment.

During this appointment, the certified periodontist will make a small incision in the gums and place the small, screw-like device into the jawbone. Of course, local anesthesia and other types of dental sedation will be used as necessary. Then, he or she will close the incisions and the patient is sent home to heal.

The healing process, called osseointegration, takes between 3 and 12 months. During this time, the jawbone and the implant will naturally integrate just like with a natural tooth root.

After healing is complete, the dentist will secure an abutment and custom-designed dental crown, bridge, or denture to the implants.

While this process can seem long, most dentists and patients believe it is worth it! No other tooth replacement option offers the same advantages.

Schedule an Initial Consultation

To learn which tooth replacement option is best for your smile and circumstances, contact our team of experts at Metropolitan Dental Care today at (303) 534-2626.