Living with a missing tooth can affect your smile, chewing efficiency, and even pronunciation of words. The adjacent teeth could also move out of their alignment if you don't replace the missing tooth. Even your jawbone might deteriorate if you stay with a missing tooth for a long time. Luckily, the following options can help you replace the missing tooth.
A dental implant is an artificial material, typically metal, that the dentist inserts into the jawbone to act as a tooth root. The dentist then caps the implant with an artificial tooth that resembles your natural tooth. You can use multiple dental implants to replace multiple missing teeth, each tooth with its own implant. You need a strong and healthy jawbone for your dental implant treatment to be successful.
Dental implants are highly successful, strong and fully functional (you can use them to eat just like your natural teeth). Your implants won't affect the adjacent teeth. However, implants are relatively expensive, particularly in the short term.
A denture is a removable frame or plate that the dentist uses to replace one or more missing teeth. Dentures are made from different materials such as resin, plastic, or porcelain. A full or complete denture (used for many missing teeth) features a base that fits over the gums and to which the artificial teeth rest. The denture is custom-made and crafted in a dental lab to fit your mouth, since every person's mouth is unique. The partial or incomplete denture features a wire framework that rests on the adjacent teeth.
Dentures are relatively inexpensive, takes less time (compared to implants) to fix, and are just as beautiful as natural teeth. Unfortunately, the denture base might damage adjacent teeth. Also, the lack of a tooth root in a denture means it doesn't prevent jawbone deterioration as implants do.
A conventional dental bridge consists of an artificial tooth (known as a pontic) that is held in place by materials (known as an abutment) attached to the adjacent teeth. A dental bridge can replace a single tooth or multiple missing teeth in a single area.
Just like the other teeth replacement options, dental bridges look just like natural teeth and are therefore great for aesthetic reasons. The dental bridges are also cheaper than dental implants. Unfortunately, the treatment process requires some preparation of the adjacent teeth, which may weaken the teeth.
As you can see, you have more than one option to replace a missing tooth, so you shouldn't live with a tooth gap. Talk to your dentist for further advice on which dental service is best for your circumstances.