With the recent advances in dentistry, patients today have multiple treatment options at their disposal for replacement of missing teeth. Obviously, if you have missing teeth, it's better to replace it as soon as possible. It's important not only from an aesthetic point of view but also from a functional and structural point. Replacing missing teeth at the earliest will help maintain form and function, alignment of surrounding teeth and preserve facial contours.
Listed below are a few approaches to replace missing teeth. Depending on the individual patient's requirements and conditions, the dentist can provide you with the best customized treatment plan.
The latest option to replace missing teeth are dental implants. A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root that is placed in the jaw bone to replace the missing tooth. Dental implants function just like natural teeth and provide better aesthetics than other treatment options in most of the cases. However, for placement of dental implants, one needs to have optimum levels of healthy bone along with healthy gums. Certain systemic health conditions may preclude implantation as well. A few systemic conditions may also preclude the placement of dental implants.
Though dental implants are more expensive than the other treatment options, they best replicate the natural appearance of teeth and do not compromise on the health of the adjacent teeth. However, Dental implants do require a minor surgery and healing time before placement of the final crown.
Fixed Partial Denture
Before the advent of dental implants, fixed partial dentures were the best option available for fixed replacement of missing teeth. In this treatment protocol, however, the adjacent healthy teeth are trimmed to replace the missing teeth. This treatment option is less expensive than dental implants and also requires no surgical intervention. The adjacent teeth are more susceptible to tooth decay as they are shaped during the procedure. Also the jawbone beneath the pontic may deteriorate following prolonged use.
Removable Partial Denture (RPD)
A removable partial denture is basically artificial teeth anchored in a plastic/acrylic like material that mimics gum tissue. The patient can remove the denture for cleaning purpose as well as at night time. Though relatively inexpensive, these may have stability and comfort issues. Also the jawbone beneath the denture may deteriorate over time.