Replacing missing teeth
Missing teeth are surprisingly common, and in fact 6% of UK adults have no natural teeth. Common causes of tooth loss include injury and poor oral hygiene, which if left untreated can lead to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
In the case of injury, tooth loss isn’t always preventable, unless you’re taking part in contact sports – in which case always wear a protective gumshield. Tooth decay and gum disease, however, are very avoidable through good oral hygiene. We recommend brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups.
Thankfully, though, these days a missing tooth doesn’t mean you’ll be left with a gap – and if the worst does happen, there are a few ways we can help.
Solutions for missing teeth
We usually recommend replacing a lost tooth as quickly as possible. This will help to maintain the position of the surrounding teeth, which otherwise could drift towards the empty space. Gaps can also cause problems with speech and for many patients their appearance can be upsetting.
Dental bridges are a cost-effective way to replace missing teeth and with a little TLC they can last for around 10 to 15 years. They consist of a natural looking false tooth, which is attached to the two teeth either side of your gap using crowns or veneers. They are best suited to single missing teeth with two healthy ‘neighbours’, but in some situations, we can attach a ‘cantilever bridge’ to just one adjacent tooth.
The downside of bridges is that the teeth either side of the replacement need to have some of their enamel removed to fit the supporting crowns. This process is irreversible, and these teeth will always need to have crowns or veneers, even if you replace the bridge with an implant further down the line.
A less invasive variation of a conventional bridge is a Maryland bridge, which is cemented to the back surfaces of one or both of the surrounding teeth. This doesn’t cause any damage, but it’s not as secure as a traditional bridge and may need reattaching from time to time. We usually recommend them as a good interim measure for anyone thinking about an implant.
Dental implants are a fantastic solution to missing teeth that look and function just like the real thing. They replace both the root and crown of the tooth and won’t damage any of your surrounding teeth.
Implants also help to prevent bone resorption – the disappearance of alveolar bone – which is a side effect of missing teeth. This is another reason we recommend acting quickly after the loss of a tooth, while you still have enough bone for an implant. If you’ve had a gap for a while, we may need to carry out a bone graft to provide the support for your implant.
Implants can be used to replace single or multiple missing teeth – we can even attach dentures to implants for increased comfort and peace of mind. With regular check-ups and good oral hygiene, implants can last for many years and in some cases a lifetime.
If you have one or more missing teeth and would like some advice, contact us to arrange your free no-obligation consultation* today.