A missing tooth or teeth can lead to a cascade of dental problems, so getting a replacement is a good idea. You may not realize it, but you have several options for replacing missing teeth, and choosing the best one can be a bit confusing. Here, we describe two popular options that have some similarities and also some important differences.
Dr. Stephen Hiroshige and his staff are happy to answer your questions regarding the best way for you to replace any missing teeth. For some people, dentures are most appropriate; in other situations, a dental implant will provide the most satisfactory result. However, two options of which you may not be aware are crowns and bridges.
Reasons to replace missing teeth
When you’re missing one or more teeth, you have a higher risk of developing other complications. Here a few examples:
Your remaining teeth can shift
If your remaining teeth move into the gap where your missing tooth was, you may end up losing them, too. As they shift, they can loosen.
Your risk of tooth decay is also higher. For one thing, it may be difficult to properly clean your remaining teeth, particularly if they shift into the gap. For another, bacteria can more easily enter your gums and cause decay of your remaining teeth.
Although our goal is to help you enjoy outstanding dental health, there’s no denying the cosmetic component of replacing missing teeth. You’re likely to smile more when you feel good about how your teeth look.
What to know about dental crowns
Dental crowns are caps that look like the visible part of your teeth. Dr. Hiroshige uses crowns in a few different ways. A crown can be placed over a natural tooth that has a crack. The crown will both protect the tooth and provide extra support.
Crowns can also be used to cover a tooth with a cavity too large for a simple filling or to strengthen a tooth that is weakened for some other reason. If you have a root canal, Dr. Hiroshige will place a crown over the tooth after the procedure to protect it.
Crowns are also used with dental implants to replace missing teeth. The implant is surgically embedded into your jawbone to provide a prosthetic tooth root. The crown is then attached to the top of the implant to give you a functional false tooth.
Finally, crowns can be used to support dental bridges, which is another tooth replacement option.
What to know about dental bridges
When you’re missing a tooth or multiple teeth, there’s a gap, which can be bridged with a device called a dental bridge. There are several types of bridges, making it a flexible option that can work in a variety of situations.
The teeth on either side of your gap are called abutment teeth, and they serve to hold and stabilize the bridge, which holds a false tooth called a pontic. The pontic provides functionality so that you can chew and speak normally, and it also fills the gap so that your remaining teeth don’t shift.
A bridge can be supported by crowns over your abutment teeth, which is considered a traditional crown. Rather than crowns, Dr. Hiroshige can use a framework that is bonded to the backs of your abutment teeth to support the bridge, which is called a Maryland dental bridge.
If only one abutment tooth is available, a cantilever dental bridge may be the best solution. In that case, a crown is placed over only one abutment tooth, and it supports the bridge. One final option is to have a dental implant to support a bridge.
Both crowns and bridges can be made from various materials. Most people choose ceramic or porcelain because they look so much like your natural teeth. Dr. Hiroshige carefully matches the material used to your teeth so that neither a bridge or a crown is noticeable.
Either option is better than leaving a gap because it protects your dental health. The best way to choose between the two is to discuss your individual situation with Dr. Hiroshige. Your age, overall health, the cost, and several other factors are important in making a decision.
Schedule your appointment with Dr. Hiroshige today to learn more about your tooth replacement options.