There are three basic ways to fix a missing tooth or teeth.
– Fixed bridge
– Removable appliance
– Dental implant
Bridge: A fixed dental bridge is like having three crowns. The teeth on either side of the missing tooth are prepared for crowns, an impression is made, and the case is sent to a dental laboratory. The laboratory then makes the crowns and fastens a false tooth between the two crowns – this is a bridge.
The advantages of a bridge are that it is fixed, stable, and feels like your own teeth. In most cases it can be made to look just like you never had a tooth missing.
Removable Appliance. A removable partial denture can be used to replace a missing tooth.
The advantages of the removable partial denture appliance are that multiple teeth can be replaced with one appliance. If the span of missing teeth is three or more, or if there are not solid teeth on both sides of the missing teeth, a fixed bridge may not work.
Dental implant. A dental implant is an artificial “root” that is implanted in your jaw after a tooth extraction, and then a tooth is placed on it. Biologically, it is like placing an entirely new artificial tooth in your mouth.
The advantages of an implant are: No teeth on either side have to be prepared for crowns, so there is no grinding on “good teeth” – you just fix the missing tooth. Implants can also span the space of multiple missing teeth. There is no limit to the span they can cover, as long as the patient’s health is good and there is healthy and adequate bone to support the implant. An implant also is fixed and feels just like your own teeth. If you are missing multiple teeth or all your teeth, there is a strong advantage to dental implants in that they will preserve the jawbone.