Did you know that sharks have thousands of teeth and lose approximately 100 teeth per day? For a shark, missing teeth are no big deal. Unfortunately for us humans, having one or more missing teeth can dramatically affect our ability to eat, speak, and have an appealing smile, especially since we can’t just grow new teeth. For these reasons, many people who have missing teeth look for restorative dental methods to replace their missing teeth.
Replacing missing teeth is also important to maintain your oral health. Although one missing tooth may seem like no big deal, it can actually affect your entire smile. When it comes to replacing missing teeth, there are different options such as bridges, dentures, and dental implants. Each option offers the ability to replace one or more missing teeth using different methods. Here are how these three options compare:
Like their name suggests, dental bridges “bridge” the gap left by one or more missing teeth. Traditional dental bridges are composed of one or more fake teeth that are fused together with a dental crown on either side. These dental crowns are placed over existing teeth in the mouth and are used to support the bridge of fake teeth. There are also other types of dental bridges that have a slightly different structure and that use a wire framework. In most cases, a bridge can be placed over the course of two dental appointments. The first appointment is necessary to prepare the teeth receiving crowns and to take dental impressions for the fabrication of the bridge. The second appointment is then needed to check the fit of the restoration and cement the permanent restoration in place. As long as they are properly cared for, dental bridges can last around 10-15 years.
Many people are familiar with dentures, which are an entire set of fake teeth. These fake teeth are mounted onto an acrylic or resin based that is contoured to fit over the gums. The base is also made to resemble natural gum tissue. Although dentures must be removed at night, they remain in place by using suction to hold them to the gums. To ensure the dentures are able to grip the gums, any remaining teeth must be extracted before dentures can be placed. Because of this, dentures are generally used in cases where an individual has little to no remaining teeth. After dentures have been placed, they will need to be adjusted about every 2-3 years since the jawbone will change shape and cause them not to fit properly.
While bridges and dentures both sit on top of the gums, dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that is placed beneath the gums in the jawbone. This is because dental implants function as artificial tooth roots that fuse with the surrounding bone in order to support a dental prosthetic. Depending on the number of missing teeth, dental implants can be used in coordination with a crown, bridge, or denture. Since dental implants are placed in the jawbone, they require a minor oral surgery and multiple office visits. They also require a certain amount of bone mass and a bone graft may need to be performed before they can be placed. However, their structure also allows them to restore the look and function of natural teeth. Dental implants are also the strongest restoration, can stimulate the jawbone to preserve bone mass, and can last around 20 years.
Dr. Victor Bustos graduated from Florida International University with an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Biology and then continued on to obtain his DMD from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He strives to always stay current on the newest techniques and continuously attends dental continuing education courses and workshops to further his knowledge and hone his skills. Dr Bustos’ greatest satisfaction comes from helping patients achieve their dental goals.