If you're missing one or more teeth, you may notice a difference in chewing and speaking. There are options to help restore your smile. Bridges help maintain the shape of your face, as well as alleviating the stress in your bite by replacing missing teeth. Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, a bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth and literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth are missing. The restoration can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials and is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support. Unlike a removable bridge, which you can take out and clean, a fixed bridge is permanently cemented into place. The success of a bridge depends on its foundation, so it's very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy and strong.
Crowns and conventional bridges or dentures may not be your only options when replacing missing teeth. For some people, dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Surgically placed into the jawbone over a series of appointments, implants serve as a base for individual replacement teeth, bridges or a denture. Implants offer stability because they fully integrate into your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural and some people also find the secure fit more comfortable than conventional substitutes. Candidates for dental implants need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by a dentist will help determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Dentures - Partial
Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which might be connected by a metal framework. This can be an alternative option for a Bridge or Implant.
Dentures - Complete
If you've lost all of your natural teeth, whether from periodontal disease, tooth decay or injury, complete dentures can replace your missing teeth and your smile. Replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance and your health. Without support from the denture, facial muscles sag, making a person look older. You'll be able to eat and speak — things that people often take for granted until their natural teeth are lost.
There are various types of complete dentures. A conventional full denture is made and placed in the patient's mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed which may take several months. An immediate complete denture is inserted as soon as the remaining teeth are removed. The dentist takes measurements and makes models of the patient's jaws during a preliminary visit. With immediate dentures, the denture wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period.
Even if you wear full dentures, you still must take good care of your mouth. Brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues and help remove plaque.