There are several dental conditions that can create a need for a replacement tooth. A missing tooth could be the result of an accident, decay or genetics. Whatever the reason it is important that the tooth be replaced. If a missing tooth is not replaced it can lead to problems with other teeth. The abutment tooth may attempt to extend into the area where the missing tooth belongs. This occurs because there is no longer a biting surface for the tooth to meet against. The teeth on either side of the missing tooth will also shift in an attempt to fill the gap.
There are three options for replacing a missing tooth; a partial, a bridge or an implant. A partial is made of metal wire with fabricated teeth attached. The wires are inserted around the teeth on either side of the missing tooth and the fabricated tooth fills in the area of the missing tooth. If there are teeth missing on both sides of the upper jaw of the patient, a partial with a plastic pallet piece may be chosen. Partials are not permanently placed. They can be removed regularly by the patient and should be cleaned at least once a day.
A dental bridge is a semi-permanent solution. Many people will never have to have a bridge replaced. But occasionally a bridge will become unseated or damaged. If this happens the dentist will either re-cement the original bridge or have a new bridge fabricated by a dental lab.
The most permanent solution to a missing tooth is a dental implant. Dental implants are placed over the course of several visits. Initially a rod is placed in the patient’s jaw bone. A significant period of time must be allowed to pass to ensure that the bone around the rod has had time to repair and that there is little risk of the body rejecting the rod. Afterwards, a porcelain crown is added to the rod, replacing the missing tooth.