Generally speaking, there are three methods to replace a missing tooth. These are provision of a removable denture, placement of a conventional bridge retained on the teeth on either side of the gap and placement of an implant-retained crown. With the introduction of dental implants in the last 20 years, replacing missing teeth has evolved considerably. The treatment plan, however, is patient centred and depends on many different aspects, such as condition of teeth on either side of the missing tooth, remaining bone levels and of course the wishes of the patient.

Dental Implants

While placement of implant-retained crowns and bridges is the most physiological and closest to nature’s way of replacing the missing teeth, a number of issues will have to be considered before your dentist can recommend this treatment for you. For example, placement of an implant requires the presence of sufficient bone in the jaw that will hold the implant. Patients who do not have sufficient bone will require bone grafting. This refers to the procedure where the missing parts of the bone can be added using either pieces of the bone harvested from other areas of your own jaw or commercially produced artificial bone could be used to rebuild the missing areas. A specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery will generally perform the graft and implant placement surgery.

The options for tooth replacement vary depending on the patient’s existing teeth and oral health, such as gum disease or bone loss. For example, full dentures or a removable partial denture can be provided in case of extensive tooth loss while an implant supported crown or bridge is ideal when replacing a single missing natural tooth. In some cases, a surgical procedure, such as dental implant surgery, may be recommended to support the adjacent teeth and help restore natural tooth function.

It is important to consult a qualified dentist to discuss the best option for you that takes into consideration your existing teeth and oral health. They will be able to provide advice about the most suitable tooth replacement plan for you.