Why should I replace missing teeth?
Your appearance is one reason. Another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can mean more strain is put on the teeth at either side. A gap can also mean your ‘bite' is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and change the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes tooth decay and gum disease.
How are missing teeth replaced?
There are always 4 options to replace missing teeth, they are:
Do nothing, leave the space
If leaving the space is not an option, a denture is a removable false tooth (or teeth) - called a partial denture. The second is with a fixed bridge. A bridge is usually used when there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth. The third way is by the use of dental ‘implants'. This is where an artificial root is placed into the bone of the jaw and a crown or bridge placed on top of this. See our section Implants
What is the alternative to a partial denture?
The main alternatives are a fixed bridge or a dental implant. A dental bridge is made by putting crowns on the teeth at either side of the gap, and then joining these two crowns together by placing a false tooth in the space. This is all made in the laboratory and then the pieces are cemented into place with special adhesives. The bridge can't be removed.
Another option is an adhesive bridge. This has ‘wings' that are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth, with very little drilling needed.
Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?
You can have a bridge only if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dental team will help you decide which is the best way of replacing missing teeth.
What are bridges made of?
Bridges are usually made of porcelain bonded to precious metal. Sometimes other non-precious metals are used in the base for strength. There are also new bridges made entirely of a special type of strong porcelain.