The “Best” Way To Replace a Missing Tooth

The “Best” Way To Replace a Missing Tooth…

            Life is full of choices.  One duty required of doctors is to educate patients on the risks and benefits of different treatment choices.  It is then the responsibility of the patient to choose how they would like to treat their disease or their problem.

            For example, let us discuss the case of a single missing tooth.  If a patient is missing one tooth (with teeth on each side of the empty space), then there are generally three ways to replace that lost tooth.  Something removable (a flipper or partial denture), a fixed bridge (a porcelain tooth suspended between crowns on either side), or a dental implant with tooth on top can be fabricated.  A final option would be to do nothing and suffer the consequences of the remaining teeth shifting around to try and fill the gap themselves.  Doing nothing is always a choice.  In reality, there are a few more options, but these are the generally accepted top four.

            Almost daily, we get asked, “How can I replace this missing tooth?” 

            This almost invariably leads to the follow up question, “Well doc, what is the best treatment?”

            The best treatment can be a tricky question because every situation is different.  What might be “best” for one person and their anatomy might not be “best” for another.  It sounds simple to replace a single missing tooth.  In reality, there are a lot of factors involved in keeping that replacement tooth healthy and esthetic for the rest of one’s life.

            All things considered, the best answer I can give is what I’d do for myself, my family, or my best friend.  If I had to replace a tooth today, I would replace it with a dental implant.

            Dental implants are titanium tooth roots that can be used to replace single teeth or sets of teeth.  The surgery involved in placing an implant is quite painless, as there are no nerve fibers in the bone that the implant is anchored to.  Most patients are pleasantly surprised when they do not need any pain medication after implant surgery.

            The true advantage of using a dental implant to replace a missing tooth is that an implant is a one tooth solution to a one tooth problem.  Bridges and partials must use other teeth in the mouth for support and are prone to fail if any one of the supporting teeth get cavities or gum disease.  It pains me to think of how many bridges we have had to remove for patients because a single tooth supporting the bridge got a cavity.  On a fixed bridge, if one tooth fails the whole bridge is usually lost.  Partials too can go bad or get loose very quickly if any of the supporting teeth get weakened, decayed, or damaged.

            There are many factors and considerations in replacing a single lost tooth.  Meet with your dentist so that you can choose the option that best fits you.

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