If you have missing teeth, you may choose to do nothing and leave the space empty. Alternatively, you may want to replace them. Treatment options include the following.
- Bridges – false teeth that are fixed onto adjacent natural teeth.
- Dental implants – metal ‘pegs’ are placed in your jawbone, and dentures, crowns or bridges are clipped or screwed on top of them.
- Dentures (false teeth) – removable plastic or metal frameworks that carry false teeth.
A dental implant is essentially a substitute for a natural root and commonly it is screw or cylinder shaped. Each implant is placed into a socket carefully drilled at the precise location of the intended tooth. If an implant has a screw-thread on its outer surface it can be screwed into position and if it does not, it is usually tapped into place. The main aim during installation of any implant is to achieve immediate close contact with the surrounding bone. This creates an initial stability, which over time is steadily enhanced by further growth of bone into microscopic roughness on the implant surface.
Fixed bridge / Resin bonded bridge
Teeth can also be replaced with a fixed bridge if there are teeth in the area that are adequate in number and sufficiently healthy and strong to support the artificial teeth. In order to fabricate a bridge, the adjacent teeth are prepared by reducing their size (or cut down) to remove all the enamel, making room for the prosthetic tooth restoration.
Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic), nylon or metal. They fit snugly over the gums to replace missing teeth and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps. Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle.
You may therefore need either:
- complete dentures (a full set) – which replace all your upper or lower teeth, or
- partial dentures – which replace just one tooth or a few missing teeth
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