Missing a Tooth? Here are Your Options.

It seemed like it happened in slow motion. Daniel was playing basketball and was elbowed in the mouth. The elbow thrust knocked one of his front teeth out. His parents rushed him in for a Houston dental emergency appointment. During the dental appointment, they were all surprised that it is not quick and easy to replace a missing tooth. There is a lot involved in replacing missing teeth. Fortunately, advancements in dentistry make it possible to get your smile back.

According to Harvard Medical School, “Few of us will make it through life with a full set of 32 teeth. By age 50, the average American has lost 12 permanent teeth to decay, gum disease, or injury.” Not only will a missing tooth affect your smile, but it will affect your overall teeth alignment and weaken your jawbone. That’s why Houston dentists recommend replacing missing teeth.

Take a Risk and Don’t Do Anything

Some people decide they do not want to replace their missing tooth. This is a mistake. When you choose to not replace a missing or extracted tooth, you are risking your smile and overall health. First of all, depending on the location of the missing tooth, you may experience pain when you eat. Second, a missing tooth is very noticeable.

The American Dental Association explains, “Your teeth are designed to work together to help you chew, speak, and smile. When teeth are missing, it is difficult to do these things. Even the loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to shift and your face to look older.” Over time, a missing tooth will change your bite and alter your jawline.

As you can see, it is unwise to risk living with a missing tooth – especially when there are multiple options for replacing missing teeth.

Dental Implants

Dental implants can replace a single missing tooth or several. A dental implant is a surgical procedure where your Houston dentist will mount a titanium metal post or frame into the jaw where the tooth is missing. Next, the Houston dentist will mount a replacement tooth to the implant. The implant is a permanent replacement.

While implants tend to be the most preferred option for replacing missing teeth (because they are the most realistic looking replacements), they won’t work for every person’s situation. For instance, a dental implant works independently, which requires your jawbone to meet the requirements for the implant. Harvard Medical School explains, “If your jawbone won’t support an implant, your dentist will augment it with bone or a bone-like material in a surgical procedure. You will need to wait several months for the bone to heal before receiving the implant.” Additionally, since this is a surgical procedure, only healthy candidates qualify.

The entire dental implant process is lengthy. For example, after your Houston dentist has placed the implant, he or she will not place the replacement tooth on the implant until the implant area is completely healed. The healing process takes a few months.

Fixed Bridges

Generally, if you are missing more than one tooth, your Houston dentist will recommend a bridge. A bridge is artificial teeth on a metal frame that is cemented to teeth on either side of the gap. Healthline explains, “The prosthetic is attached to adjacent teeth and then bonded in place using dental cement.” Many people opt for a bridge to replace missing teeth because they look natural, don’t require surgery, are less expensive, and take less time.

According to Harvard Medical School, “Getting a bridge is a shorter process than getting an implant, but still requires several visits—one for imaging and impressions, another for preparing the supporting teeth for crowns and fitting a temporary bridge, and another for fitting the permanent bridge.”

Removable Partial Dentures

Another option for replacing missing teeth is a removable partial denture. Like traditional dentures, a removable partial denture can be taken out of the mouth easily. Typically, removable partial dentures have a replacement tooth attached to a gum-colored plastic base. Healthline explains, “Your natural teeth stabilize and hold the removable plastic base in place, although some dentures have a clasp that adjoins to natural teeth.” Unfortunately, many people find removable partial dentures uncomfortable and difficult to eat and speak with. They are less expensive, but they also don’t last as long as implants or fixed bridges.

Prevent Tooth Loss

Ideally, you want to avoid losing any of your teeth. While there will be accidents that lead to tooth loss, many times, tooth loss can be prevented. For example, wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports. Daniel, the basketball player, could have saved a lot of time, pain, and money if he had worn a mouthguard while playing.

It is also imperative that you maintain healthy oral care habits. Periodontal disease is one of the main reasons people lose teeth. Avoid it by taking care of your teeth. Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time and floss daily. Avoid tobacco. Drink water with fluoride and eat less sugary foods.

Make a point to visit your Houston dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. Your dentist can check for early warning signs and provide health tips. Similarly, schedule an appointment when you notice any pain or other dental problems. It is better to address small issues before they grow into bigger ones (such as a tooth decayed beyond repair).

Schedule an Appointment with Greenspoint Dental in Houston

If you are missing a tooth, schedule an appointment with Greenspoint Dental in Houston. We can discuss your options and see which replacement will work best for your smile. At Greenspoint Dental, we offer full mouth rehabilitation, which may consist of dental implants and dental bridges. Depending on the extent of damage and the assessment of your mouth and jaw will help our dental team determine which full mouth rehabilitation procedures are needed. If necessary, we can also recommend a prosthodontist, oral surgeon, or periodontist.

Contact Greenspoint Dental today at (281) 823-9987.