Why It's So Important

Replacing Missing Teeth

September 22, 2022

What's the big deal?

You find yourself in a situation where one of your teeth needs to come out. Maybe it is the first one that you've ever had to part with, or this is a scenario you are familiar with. The question many patients have is, "Do I need to replace it?" The follow-up question usually relates to what options there are to do such a thing. The truth is that your decision to replace a missing tooth is individualized based upon your age, finances, mindset, and the location of the particular edentulous spot. From a standpoint of function and biting harmony, most teeth that are lost should be replaced. The consequences of a lost tooth that is not restored include shifting teeth, collapsing of your bite, and/or structural changes to the surrounding bone and skin of the lower third of your face. People often overlook the broader changes that can happen when teeth are lost. You have probably seen people in the past where you can tell from looking at their faces that they do not have all of their teeth. Their faces are sunken in and shortened in appearance. This is because as we lose back teeth, we sacrifice the needed posterior support for our bite. We begin to rely on our front teeth for chewing. These premolars, canines, and incisors are not meant to take on the workload that our molars are specifically made for. As a result, our remaining teeth will either chip, break, or move as a result of the forces being generated. Often times, the front teeth will flare forward and spaces will open between the teeth. Eventually these teeth will become loose and need to be removed. Dentures then need to be fabricated to allow a patient to chew their food. There tends to be a snowball effect once a tooth is lost and not replaced.

What options do I have?

Depending on the location and amount of missing teeth, you may have several options for replacing them. Dental implants are the most effective way to replace a missing tooth, with an extremely high success rate. With this method, a titanium implant is surgically placed into the bone where the roots once were. After 8-12 weeks of healing time to allow the titanium to osseointegrate with the bone, impressions are done to make the implant crown that will cement or screw into the implant. This option restores form and function without any adjustments needed to the adjacent teeth. This is a fixed (non-removable) option with outstanding long-term success.

Fixed dental bridges are an alterative to dental implants. Also non-removable, the bridge gets cemented over the adjacent teeth on either side of the missing tooth. This modality requires drilling on these neighboring teeth, so if they are untouched or overly compromised, this would not be a great option. If the site of the missing tooth is lacking adequate bone horizontally or vertically, and additional surgeries are either unfavorable or unwanted, a bridge may provide a great alternative.

Partial or complete dentures are removable options that may give a patient more benefit for less cost. The investment for replacing ALL of the remaining teeth for an arch is usually less than replacing just one individual tooth with this route. The tradeoff is that a removable option is often less comfortable and more annoying to deal with than a fixed option. Also, with the materials used and the fact that it is not fixed, often the patient is unable to achieve the same level of chewing efficiency that they were once used to.

What is the first step?

Ultimately, the first step is to be seen by a dentist for evaluation. X-rays, photos, and a thorough exam are required to determine what the best options are for the patient. At Gainesville Dentistry Co., we focus on comprehensive care with an emphasis on giving the patients all of their options. Our patients take an active role in their own oral health. Once we know the patients' individual motivations and goals, we can best formulate a treatment plan that fits their needs. Dr. Feldman has completed over 1500 continuing education hours in all subjects of dentistry. He has trained extensively with dental implants, fixed options, and removable options for replacing missing teeth.

We are accepting new patients!

We are ready to accommodate your dental needs and are only a phone call away! We are proudly accepting new patients and eager to serve the Gainesville, FL community. Visit the rest of our website at www.gainesvilledentistryco.com to learn more about our team and practice. You can also reserve an appointment directly online using the following convenient link: app.nexhealth.com/appt/gainesville-dentistry-co

We look forward to meeting you!

About The Author

Dr. Greg Feldman has completed over 1500 hours of continuing education following his graduation from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. To put this into perspective, dentists are only required to take 30 hours of continuing education every two years. This means that Dr. Feldman has already taken 100 years of dental education in his relatively young career. He is an avid learner and a lifelong student of dentistry. As a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry and a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, Dr. Feldman has achieved a level of recognition in the field of dentistry that few have ever reached. With this in mind, you can rest assured that anything he writes about on this blog is well researched and backed by scientific evidence and his extensive training.

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