What Are Your Options to Replace Missing Teeth?
Here’s the thing. Dentists love teeth. We’re in the business of saving teeth long before we replace missing teeth, and sometimes we’ll go through some crazy heroics to do it. I’m still waiting for Marvel to recognize this and offer me a lucrative contract for my life story (which will later be turned into a Netflix original series), but in the meantime, I’ll be out there, trying to keep your teeth where they belong—in your mouth.
But sometimes teeth can’t be saved, even with an Avengers-style dentist team-up. Severely decayed or broken teeth are difficult or nearly impossible to restore. But fear not, people who regularly open beer bottles with your teeth, get into fights, or spend time on deserted islands without a toothbrush and floss; you have options to replace missing teeth. Let’s review them!
What Are Your Options to Replace Missing Teeth?
Option 1: Dental Implants
Implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement and are the next-best thing to your natural teeth. An implant is a titanium rod that is placed into your jaw. After it integrates with the surrounding bone, a crown is placed on the implant (via a “peg” called an abutment), and voila! A new tooth!
Additionally, implants can be used to create bridges, as well as improve retention in patients with dentures. In some scenarios, implants can be used to create a denture that stays “locked” in the mouth and can only be removed by a dentist.
The Pros of Dental Implants:
- High success rates in healthy patients
- Stable and comfortable, as well as strong and functional
- Doesn’t require removing tooth structure from adjacent teeth
- Less maintenance compared to a bridge or partial (you can brush and floss like normal)
The Cons of Dental Implants:
- Can be time-consuming
- Requires minor surgery
- The success rate is lower in patients with particular medical histories (bisphosphonate usage, diabetes, current smoker, etc.) and poor gum health and hygiene
- Has minimum requirements for the amount of bone and proximity to nearby teeth and other important structures that may require additional procedures to correct
Option 2: Bridges
In cases of single-tooth replacements, bridges are considered the second-best solution. A bridge is when the two teeth on either side of a space receive crowns, and then a fake tooth, or “pontic,” is added in between to fill the space.
The Pros of Dental Bridges:
- Fixed—not taking it in and out means better function than a removable appliance (denture or partial)
- Cheaper and faster than implants
- Less stringent anatomical requirements
- Less dependent on patient’s health history and can be done at any age
The Cons of Dental Bridges:
- Must have adjacent teeth on either side of space
- Have to crown adjacent teeth
- Harder to maintain/keep clean which could lead to recurrent decay
- Compared to implants, less predictable with a higher failure rate
- Bone loss below pontic
Option 3: Removable Partial
For tooth replacement, removable appliances are ideally the last option. A partial (short for partial denture), is something that you wear during the day but take out at night. There are different varieties based on the type of material, but they all have the same basic pros and cons.
Pros of Removable Partial Dentures:
- Don’t require surgery
- Rarely require more than minor alterations to existing teeth
Cons of Removable Partial Dentures:
- Less esthetic
- Less stable
- Less functional
- Can be less comfortable
- Harder to clean
Which Option to Replace Missing Teeth is Best for You?
Well, that answer depends on a few factors, the two most significant of which are finances and number of teeth needing replacement.
If you’re a 1%-er and have no health or anatomy contraindications, I’d say implants all the way regardless of how many teeth you’re missing. For the rest of us peasants who have student loans and limited finances, my rule of thumb is that if it’s only a few teeth, I recommend implants or bridges, depending on individual factors and the adjacent teeth. When we start getting multiple, larger spaces, that’s when I start considering partials as a potential option.
If you’re considering tooth replacement, give us a call at The Silberman Dental Group. Your Waldorf dentist, Dr. Silberman, would be happy to talk over your situation and provide recommendations and a treatment plan customized to your unique needs, so you can get back to doing what you do best: opening beer bottles with your teeth.
Just kidding. Don’t do that.
(For the record, Chris Hemsworth, Sebastian Stan, and Tyler Hoechlin would all be acceptable for the role of my love interest in the Marvel Universe. Also in real life. Call me, Chris.)
This blog was originally written for The Silberman Dental Group by Dr. Rebecca Triplett.
Still have questions about the options to replace missing teeth? Leave us a comment below!
Dr. Triplett is just as good a dentist as she is a comedian.
Dr Triplett moved back to North Carolina to be with her family. She is lovely person and skilled dentist. She is no longer with The Silberman Dental Group but we certainly understand her desire to return to where her parents are especially because she wants to be supportive to her father who has some medical issues. We miss her and wish her well.
I need partials fo you take the care dental insurance card.
Hi Conrad! We would love to discuss a partial denture treatment plan with you. Please give us a call today so we can schedule your free consultation and verify your insurance – we accept all PPO dental insurance plans!
It’s good to know all of these tooth replacement options. I like how you said that partial dentures are a great one because they are the cheapest one. We’re looking at ways to replace my wife’s teeth, so I’ll make sure that we talk about those dentures.
Hello Ridley! Thank you for reading our blog. It’s lovely to hear you are researching options for your wife. To truly find the best option for your wife, we recommend a one-on-one consultation. That way you get answers that are specific to your situation, timeline, and budget. We would be happy to schedule a free consultation with your wife. Just give us a call: 301-885-2505.
You can get help at a dental school for treatment by students and postgrad students. You however must know that althougt treatment can cost less, there is a waiting period for you to be seen. There is nothing cheaper than dentures so try going to a dental training school in your area.
Hello GoToothache! Thank you for sharing. Receiving care at dental schools and supporting upcoming dental professionals is a wonderful, mutually-beneficial relationship.
Possible replacements for missing teeth apart from implant as one tooth on too. Is out and two front teeth next to it are weak and to be removed.Four teeth directly under the front teeth are very week and shaking and to be removed. These affected teeth both top and bottom are to be removed but I don’t want to remove them without a replacement. Please advise me of possible replacements apart from implant which is not possible as the gum disease has to be treated for implant if necessary in future.
The options that are available to you for replacing missing teeth is dependent about how strong the teeth are that are adjacent to the missing tooth. As you have said, your teeth are week and will be extracted soon. I recommend having the dentist take the impression of your existing teeth. A stone model of what you currently have would be poured up from that impression. The teeth that are to be extracted can be removed from the model first and a temporary partial denture can be made prior to your extraction surgery. Once the natural teeth are extracted, this partial denture can be inserted immediately. It would attach to your back teeth and you would never go with a toothless smile. There are several types of immediate partial dentures that you can review with your dentist as they vary in cost and comfort. Good luck. I hope that helps. Dr. Silberman
Hi there. I wrote a long post & inquiry on the ‘Ask Us a Question’ page last night but don’t see it yet. Hopefully I sent it through correctly but I’m in major dental distress so who knows…. 🤕
I won’t go into so much detail here but I have an old crown & we suspect I have a cracked molar underneath (lower, left). It’s currently infected (did your water test) & the dentist is planning on extracting it Monday if my infection is down. I unfortunately used my heating pad BEFORE I found your wonderfully informative site…
I have some bone loss in my jaw – I’m 56 & a tooth grinder. I don’t smoke, have no underlying health issues & practice good dental hygiene. I assume that makes me a good candidate for an implant per your blog but I have a concern about the titanium implant. Not sure if the concern is valid but I’ll ask nonetheless… I have idiopathic tinnitus in the ear on the same side the bad tooth. I’m praying that once the tooth is removed then maybe my tinnitus will ease up or go away. I’ve read about this happening & won’t hold my breath but a gal can dream. My question is do you know of any correlation of titanium implants & tinnitus? Also, I’ve read about a flexible single tooth denture. What’s your thoughts on these. Likely not good for a tooth grinder but thought I’d ask.
Thanks in advance!
Hi Vickie, See my other reply. Good Luck, Dr. Silberman
Thank you for this very informative blog & site. For you to take time to help people going through the stress of dental pain & issues is true altruism. Bless you.
Hi Vickie, Thanks so much for your kind words. You noted in your other email that you read many of my posts. As you can tell, I am more than happy to help people with dental questions. It’s interesting to me how few express that they like the posts and find them helpful, and how few people actually respond to my advice. Either way, I am happy to help where I can. Good Luck, Dr. Silberman