Bridging the gap

By Yvonne Vannoort, The Dentist

I am often asked about missing teeth and how to replace them. Fortunately, there are options for you to consider – plates (denture), bridges and implants.

The frst option is always to leave the space without a tooth, the disadvantage being that other teeth move into that space.

Back teeth often drift forward and teeth above or below can move into the space causing gum problems or decay in these teeth. Cosmetically, a missing tooth in the front of the mouth can, of course, be an issue

A plate can be used to replace one or more teeth. People generally manage plates in the upper jaw easier than a lower plate. When eating, food does tend to become trapped under plates so most people rinse or clean them after each meal. Talking may also be different until you become accustomed to the denture.

There are different types of plates including plastic or metal framed.

A bridge attaches to both the teeth either side of a missing tooth. This is fixed in place so it can’t be removed from your mouth. A bridge is completed in a couple of weeks and can be very successful.

The disadvantage is that the teeth the bridge is fixed to have to be shaped to allow the bridge to ft over them and in the process they are reduced to pegs. These ‘reduced’ teeth can then die or break leading to the need for a root felling or the loss of the bridge and the tooth

Implants are now used routinely to replace missing teeth. The advantage of an implant is that only the missing tooth space is treated and it does not involve other teeth. It is easier to clean than a bridge and looks more like a natural tooth.

The cost of an implant is more than a plate or bridge and takes a number of months to complete.

Your situation will be unique, so work with your dentist to determine which option is best for you. Wishing you good health.

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