Missing teeth can be replaced in three ways: implants, crown and bridge, and dentures.
A dental implant is a screwlike anchor that is used as an artificial replacement for natural tooth roots. Made of materials that are compatible with the human body, such as titanium, implants have been used for decades in upper and lower jaws. By attaching to the jawbone and gum tissue, they provide a stable base for artificial replacement teeth, such as dental crowns, bridges and dentures.
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or several teeth, or to support partial or full dentures. Implants and crowns remain inside the mouth and do not require any adhesives to hold them in place.
The implant is placed into the jaw and a screw is inserted to prevent debris from entering. It will take 3 to 6 months for the implant to fuse with the jawbone, during which time the gum is secured over the implant.
Upon returning the implant is uncovered and an extension called a post is attached. Once the gum tissue has healed around the post, the implant and post act as the foundation for the new tooth.
Finally, a crown that best suits your natural teeth, considering factors including size, shape and colour. Once completed, the crown is attached to the implant post and you can enjoy your beautiful new smile!
A bridge may be recommended if you’re missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. They span the space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments. As with crowns, you have a choice of materials for bridges. Your dentist can help you decide which to use, based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic considerations and cost. Porcelain or ceramic bridges can be matched to the color of your natural teeth.
Before either a crown or a bridge can be made, the tooth (or teeth) must be reduced in size so that the crown or bridge will fit over it properly. After reducing the tooth/teeth, your dentist will take an impression to provide an exact mold for the crown or bridge. If porcelain is to be used, your dentist will determine the correct shade for the crown or bridge to match the color of your existing teeth.
Using this impression, a dental lab then makes your crown or bridge, in the material your dentist specifies. A temporary crown or bridge will be put in place to cover the prepared tooth while the permanent crown or bridge is being made. When the permanent crown or bridge is ready, the temporary crown or bridge is removed, and the new crown or bridge is cemented over your prepared tooth or teeth.