Although no patient ever likes to think about having a tooth taken out, accidents do happen, and teeth sometimes need to be unexpectedly taken out. But don’t worry, whether your tooth became unsavable due to an accident or just neglect, your dentist shouldn’t suggest the horrendous extraction procedure before exhausting all other options with you. Just know that if a tooth does need to be extracted, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – you won’t have to live with a gap in your mouth forever unless you want to.
Replacing teeth after they are extracted is almost always highly recommended. This way, nearby teeth won’t move into the open space and create gaps elsewhere and opposing teeth won’t continue to move up or down into the empty space. If you replace the tooth with an implant, it will also prevent the surrounding jawbone from shrinking in width, which begins to occur immediately after a tooth is taken out. Finally, and maybe most importantly, you won’t have a gap between your teeth when you smile.
Knowing all of your options to replace missing teeth ahead of time also allows you to plan accordingly. It may even be possible to have a replacement on the same day the tooth is taken out. There are many ways to replace a missing tooth, but the four main options are: implants, bridges, dentures, or braces. In this post, we will focus on the first three since they are the best options for most people.
Option #1: Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures (RPDs) can serve as a either a permanent or a temporary replacement solution for extracted teeth. Depending on whether they are intended to be permanent or temporary, RPDs may be made of a metal substructure covered in pink acrylic, or simply a flexible plastic. Permanent RPDs have thick metal clasps that grab onto healthy teeth and use those remaining teeth as their support. They can be worn throughout the day and while eating. Temporary RPDs, on the other hand, are commonly called “flippers” because they sit only on your gums and can be easily flipped out with your tongue. They might occasionally have thin metal wires grabbing onto remaining teeth to help hold them in place, but they are not nearly as secure in the mouth as permanent ones, making them unsuitable for chewing. They are primarily used for esthetics and to help preserve the space between teeth while waiting for a more permanent option.
So, what are the pros and cons of RPDs as a permanent tooth replacement? Well, there is really only one benefit in that they are the most economical option, especially when replacing multiple teeth. The cons are that they are difficult to adjust to, they catch food underneath them, and it’s a hassle to take them in and out every night to clean. Nonetheless, they are still a decent long-term option. Some patients have been known to have RPDs for more than 30 years!
Option #2: Fixed Bridges
Moving away from removable options, a fixed bridge is another way to permanently replace a missing tooth without having to deal with taking something in and out. A bridge consists of multiple crowns attached to one another as one unit. The last two crowns on each end are always held up by natural teeth, hence “a bridge.” The remaining teeth on each side of the gap are the support for the crown that sits over the extraction site.
Fixed bridges usually end up having better esthetics than RPDs, and since they are permanently cemented onto your teeth, they feel like a natural part of your mouth. However, since it is all one unit, you cannot floss between the crowns and have to floss underneath the fake tooth instead. Many patients often neglect this basic hygiene practice leading to gum inflammation and bone loss under the fake tooth, which eventually, leads to decay on the teeth holding the bridge up. So while bridges are a great option to replace missing teeth, proper oral hygiene cannot be overlooked.
Option #3: Dental Implants
Dental implants are often the best option to replace missing teeth because they help maintain the width of the jawbone almost as well as a natural tooth. They also reproduce the feel of a natural tooth better than the other options. Implants are placed by inserting a titanium or zirconium post into the jawbone in the space left by the extracted tooth. After several months, the implant integrates with the surrounding jawbone and becomes part of your mouth. At this point, your dentist will have a crown made that screws into the post, and you will essentially have a new tooth you can chew with.
Today, implants are usually the most recommended restoration, but they are also the most expensive due to the extensive skills and training needed to do them well. The prices can also vary depending on whether the jawbone needs to be grafted prior to placing the implant, and on the quality of the materials used. Further, the length of the treatment plan can be a downside for many patients since it usually takes about six months until the restoration is complete. However, implants do provide unparalleled support to the jaw without putting stress on other teeth in the mouth, which is why they are the permanent solution that many patients prefer.
Related post: Why Does the Cost of Dental Implants Frequently Vary?
Rebuild Your Smile With Confidence
Ultimately, the right replacement choice for you will depend on many factors unique to your situation. Although implants are the most modern and supportive solution, every individual is different, and the best choice for you may be another type of dental appliance.
Find the assistance and guidance that you're looking for when you contact our office today. With a modern and well-equipped office, years of experience, and a compassionate approach to patient care, Dr. Nargiz Zadeh can assist you in exploring the right tooth-replacement choice for your needs. Get in touch today to explore your options or arrange a consultation.
Testimonial from Jessica, Satisfied Patient
Very pleased with the service. I am scared of the dentist so I was very nervous going in for my fillings but Dr. Zadeh and her staff were amazing. She was very gentle and I didn’t feel a thing and she made sure I was comfortable during the whole thing. Her staff is also very kind and knowledgeable. I’ve recommended my stepdad to her and he also finds her to be great. Highly recommend if looking for general dentist.