Teeth that are missing need to be replaced not only to regain the beauty of your smile, but also to regain proper chewing function and protect the rest of your teeth that are still in the mouth. Indeed, for a dentist, aesthetics is only a secondary consideration when talking about dental prosthetics and tooth replacement, the primary being the restoration of the bite and to make sure that the patient can chew food effectively. Tooth loss negatively affects the rest of the teeth that are now working in overtime, and the uneven division of force can negatively impact the health of the jaw as well. The missing tooth can and will cause the row of teeth to dislocate and move, and will cause disorganised teeth and the eventual degeneration of the alveolus, leading to more tooth loss and more jaw problems. This is why it is so important to replace missing teeth. Modern dentistry has several solutions to the problems of tooth loss, which can all be very useful, but have different positive and negative qualities, depending on your situation.
Removable tooth replacements
These can be used by pretty much every patient, regardless of any other factor. The most obvious benefit of this kind of tooth replacement is that it can be removed by the person who wears it. Nowadays this tooth replacement option is les soften used, and has been somewhat overshadowed by fixed dental prosthetics, but many people still get them, for economic reasons.
Partial dentures, or dental bridges, are made of either a metal or a plastic base, which can be either flexible or hard. This kind of tooth replacement technique is used to replace numerous teeth that are missing next to each other on a given row, or even an entire row, and it serves the usual function of rehabilitating proper chewing function, but it can also help by eliminating speech impediments caused by a lack of teeth.
Removable dentures that replace all teeth are used in the case of complete edentulism, which is the medical term for when there are no teeth left in the mouth, or when the conditions in the mouth make it impossible to give fixed dentures. These can also be made of either plastic or metal. The real downside to this kind of denture is that it is uncomfortable and takes quite a while to get used to, and is not a pleasant process.
Fixed tooth replacement options
Fixed tooth replacements are usually made by dentists or dental technicians, and they cannot be moved or removed after they have been placed on the tooth surfaces. Fixed tooth replacements can be the solution to partial or complete tooth loss, and can replace only a couple of teeth as well.
Dental veneers are tiny shells of ceramic that can be used to treat aesthetic problems first and foremost. In these cases not all of the tooth surface will be affected, but rather, the thin little veneers will be placed on the affected area of the tooth surface.
Inlays are made in dental laboratories, and the dentist adheres them to the tooth surface. This solution is reserved for problems that cannot be fixed by a simple tooth filling, but when a large portion of the tooth has been consumed by slow decay.
A dental crown is a porcelain artificial tooth that has an internal structure of either zirconium oxide or aluminium oxide. This solution is used when the entire cusp of a tooth has been compromised, and an inlay just won’t cut it anymore.
A dental bridge, as previously alluded to, is a set of two or more dental crowns in a row, meant to replace several missing teeth next to each other. The bridge needs pillars, and either living teeth or a dental implants can be used as such.
Dental implants are the only way to prevent further tooth loss as they are the only kind of tooth replacement that effectively replaces the entirety of a tooth, including the tooth roots, and not just the visible portions of it. The part that replaces the tooth roots is a screw that goes into the jawbones and is made of titanium, which is incorporated by the body into the jawbone, making a completely stable dental prosthesis.