WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
When a tooth is lost, we have several options to restore the missing space. Usually the best treatment plan will involve a dental implant. If the tooth needs to be extracted because it cannot be saved, and you would like an implant at some point in the near future or longer term, we will recommend a bone graft to prevent the bone from collapsing after the tooth is extracted. Before an implant can be placed, we always do a 3D scan to make sure there are no surprises during the procedure and that the implant will be placed exactly where we plan it.
Your best option is a dental implant. A dental implant will replace the root of your missing tooth and will not affect the adjacent teeth. The implant also stimulates the bone around it preserving your bone and preventing bone loss. The tooth can be flossed normally and brushed as if it was your own. Check out more information at What is an Implant?
Below are three other options after a tooth is lost:
One of the options is to do nothing and leave the space. This may add character for some people but more often creates insecurities in most. There are several disadvantages to not replacing a tooth beyond appearance. When a tooth is lost and the area does not recieve a bone graft, teeth will begin to shift. As these teeth shift, pressure is also shifted onto other teeth in a detrimental way. The tooth opposing the missing tooth will begin to extrude into the space as well. This creates an uneven bite, it creates food traps which cause cavities or accelerated bone loss, and since the teeth are now tilting into the mising space it also causes areas that can no longer be cleansed leading to periodontal disease. A single tooth that has been lost can cause an ill fated cascading effect that could potentially lead to jaw pain, periodontal disease, cavities, or even further tooth loss.
Removable Partial Denture
The second option you have is to replace the missing tooth with a partial denture. While this is an affordable and economical option we find that patients have these partials made but very seldom wear them for a single tooth. The discomfort associated with having a bulky prosthetic in your mouth for a single tooth is often not worth it to many people.
3-Unit Fixed Bridge
A third option is a conventional 3-unit bridge. If done correctly a 3-unit bridge can be a great option to replace a tooth. It checks all the boxes of looking and feeling natural, and is a fixed solution, that does not come out of the mouth. However, there are several disadvantages. One is that your dentist will need to prepare or grind down the healthy adjacent teeth to create the necessary room for the porcelain. You will also continue to lose bone under the fake tooth in the bridge leaving a visible space over time. This area may trap food and cause decay on the adjacent teeth holding the bridge. Because of this a bridge requires a special flossing aid to help floss under the bridge to properly care for it. Also if there is a problem with one of the teeth under the bridge the entire bridge may have to be redone. A bridge average life span is 7-9 years. While an implant has a success rate of 93% at 25 years.