Do you frequently have the urge to hide your mouth from others? Do you often feel embarrassed about your “hockey smile?” Don’t worry! If you’re looking at how to replace missing teeth, know that there are several high-quality options that can restore your beautiful smile. If your smile is suffering from missing teeth, find an option that caters to you and reclaims your confidence.
The Reality of That “Hockey Smile”
If you or a loved one is missing a tooth or several, it’s okay! And you’re not alone. Dr. Guirguis estimates that one in every three people in the US is missing at least one tooth, and a quarter of those over 75 years of age have no teeth left at all. Besides the obvious concerns that come from having to live with holes in your smile, it’s important to realize that people without teeth live on average 10 years less. Many people suffer from a sagging face because of missing teeth, so you could even say that it affects more than just your smile. Other consequences or difficulties include problems with speech, eating, and even digestion.
It’s clear that this is a common problem, and luckily there are a variety of ways to replace missing teeth. Let’s explore some of the possibilities and when they work the best.
Leave the Hole Empty
The first option when it comes to missing teeth is just to do nothing. Rather than finding some teeth covers or another similar solution to fill the empty gap, people can choose to leave the gap in their mouth empty. However, this method is not ideal for your oral health and can even impact your self-esteem. Even though you might be able to get by for a while by doing nothing, it can soon lead to other problems.
Leaving that space in the mouth, especially over longer periods, causes teeth around the space to tip and shift. When teeth move around like this, it makes it increasingly likely for one missing tooth to become multiple missing teeth. Plus, having a missing tooth or two on one side of the mouth generally leads to chewing on the other side exclusively, causing accelerated wear and tear on that section as well. And, if that wasn’t enough, it can also change the profile of your face. Face sagging from missing teeth can also make you look older. Leaving the holes empty in the mouth is a bad idea, especially in the long term.
A Single Missing Tooth: The Ideal Solution
So if you shouldn’t leave the gap empty, how should you replace missing teeth? It all depends on how many teeth need to be replaced. A single missing tooth would ideally be replaced with a dental implant. This is the closest replacement, both in appearance and feel, to a natural tooth. Plus, this option doesn’t affect the surrounding teeth in the way that some of the other options may.
Unlike a bridge or a partial denture, dental implants are independent, which means that they don’t compromise surrounding teeth. Made of titanium, implants act as both the roots and crown of a natural tooth. Through the osseointegration process, an implant will integrate into the bone, eventually helping not just with the appearance but also in fulfilling the function of a natural tooth.
How to Know if An Implant is Right for You
Because implants need solid and healthy bone structures in the mouth, they are not always possible as options for missing teeth. You will need a dentist’s approval to get an implant. Your dentist will be able to determine if an implant is right for you, as in most cases, it is considered the last option.
Here at Definitive Dental, this process is simple and effective for each of our patients. We create a customized plan to determine the optimal teeth covers for missing teeth in each person’s unique circumstances. With 3D scans, we carefully evaluate the height, width, and even the density of the hole in the mouth. From there, we can see if we would recommend an implant based on the bone structure and size of the hole in the mouth. You may be recommended another option if our dentist determines that an implant may not improve your oral health or smile.
Another Possibility: Getting A Bridge
If an implant doesn’t seem to be the best solution for the gap in your mouth, getting a bridge is another option for missing teeth. With a bridge, you get a permanent fixture that doesn’t necessarily require the adjacent teeth for support. This bridge is essentially three dental crowns put together with a false tooth fused in the middle.
A bridge can be a good option if there is not enough bone for an implant, which can happen if a tooth has been missing for several years. In some cases, we can use two implants to connect a bridge, essentially replacing three. When you’re looking at how to replace missing teeth, there are other options that are removable, unlike a bridge. Our flexible solutions can create personalized smiles.
Choosing a Partial Denture
A partial denture is also a great option, especially if the missing teeth are spread across both sides of the mouth. Partial dentures typically have a metal frame and clasps for strength but can also be made of flexible plastic. At Definitive Dental, we recommend using a metal frame, as they can be easily tightened or loosened. This feature allows more teeth to be easily added if more gaps occur. So adjustments can be made without having to remake the entire denture.
For a single missing tooth, a small, one-tooth partial denture can be fitted. This is the least expensive option for missing teeth if you don’t mind having something that comes in and out of your mouth. Just be careful not to lose your partial denture or accidentally throw it away. It would be best to get a storage container for times when you’re not using it or when you’re taking it off for the day.
Considering Complete Dentures for Multiple Missing Teeth
Finally, if you are missing all of your teeth in an arch, a complete denture is the option for missing teeth that will allow you to eat and smile. Most people are just fine with the complete upper denture, but a complete lower denture can take some getting used to and there will be an adjustment period.
For that reason, we recommend an implant retained denture if a complete lower denture is needed. When you add implants to the denture, you gain a lot of stability. This option for missing teeth is supportive, making the transition easier than other types of dentures. This works so well that, in some cases, people do not ever need to remove the denture if it is supported by implants. While this option is, of course, more expensive, it may work better for your lifestyle and needs. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to thoroughly discuss this option and know if it will work for you.
Let Us Take Your Smile to New Heights
Don’t get overwhelmed with all the different options for missing teeth. When you’re determined to find out how to replace missing teeth, this can seem like a lot of information to process immediately. But, at Definitive Dental, we’re known for Dentistry Done Right. So we are here to help you understand which solution for missing teeth will be ideal for your oral health, lifestyle, and smile. With the right information, we can help you evaluate different options and how they will work for you. Personalized care from our dedicated dentistry team will help you build confidence in your smile and help you on your journey to better oral health.
Ready for the first step of loving your smile again? Schedule an appointment or reach out today to get started with your journey in evaluating and fixing your missing teeth. We’ll get back in touch soon to work on your personalized plan. Say goodbye to your face sagging from missing teeth. No need to hide your smile because of holes or gaps anymore! We can’t wait to help you Take Your Smile to New Heights.