Replacing any number of missing teeth is essential to preserve oral health, but many patients with a single missing tooth that is not visible while smiling or speaking choose not to replace the tooth. Even one missing tooth can lead to numerous oral health concerns including:
- Dental drift: Surrounding teeth shift to fill in the space left by the missing tooth. This can undo past orthodontic treatment, create gaps, or cause crowding.
- Bone and gum tissue loss: The body redirects nutrients necessary to keep tissue healthy if that tissue is not being used, a process known as resorption. In the case of jawbone and gum tissue following tooth loss, the body absorbs the nutrients necessary to keep these tissues strong and full because the root of the tooth is not present to stimulate the bone and gum tissue.
- Further tooth loss: The shifting of teeth and loss of bone and gum tissue can eventually lead to further tooth loss.
Single Tooth Replacement Options
Replacing an individual missing tooth is possible using crown and bridge or dental implant tooth replacement. A crown and bridge is a dental prosthetic that combines two crowns on either side of a replacement, “bridge,” tooth. The crowns are placed over healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth supporting the replacement crown between them. Crown and bridge is a semi-permanent tooth replacement option meaning it is not removable. The entire unit is fixed in place and looks and feels like a part of the natural smile. However, this tooth replacement option makes it necessary for patients to damage the healthy dental structure, and patients are at an increased risk for gum disease since keeping the gums free of bacteria below the prosthetic can be a challenge. Crowns and bridges prevent dental drift, but because the root of the tooth isn’t replaced, bone and gum tissue loss still occurs over time.
Single tooth dental implant replacement restores the entire tooth roots and crown (visible portion). A titanium implant post is placed into the gums below the empty socket. Once the implant is positioned, patients need to wait for the implant to fuse to the jawbone and gum tissue to heal. Then, a custom dental crown is connected to the implant post. Unlike a crown or bridge, implant supported replacement teeth prevent dental drift, bone and gum tissue loss, as well as associated tooth loss.
Why Choose Dental Implants
Advances in implant dentistry have made it possible for most patients to safely and successfully receive dental implants. The choice is now based more on personal preference. Some of the benefits of dental implants compared to other tooth replacement options include:
- Restore and preserve bone and gum tissue
- Protect surrounding teeth
- Full tooth restoration from the roots up
- Easier to care for
- Decreased risk for periodontal (gum) disease
Dental implants are the most versatile tooth replacement option available. This innovative dental treatment is used to replace any number of missing teeth from a single tooth to a full arch. If you’re interested in replacing missing teeth with comfortable, natural implant-supported dental prosthetics, contact Amin Taba, DDS in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Taba and his team are happy to help you understand your tooth replacement options, and choose the solution that is right for you.