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Solutions for missing teeth

Solution for a missing dentalIf you have had one or a few teeth removed in the past, you may have thought about having them replaced.

Missing teeth can not only be unsightly – they can also result in loss of chewing ability, collapse of your facial height (which is related to an aged look), and loss of surrounding bone.

The three general options available are:

  • Dentures (plates)
  • Bridges
  • Implants

Dentures are probably the most economical solution for replacing several missing teeth. However the catch is, they are removable. This means you will need to take them out and put them back in every day to clean them (and your natural teeth). Dentures can also start moving around inside your mouth when eating, if they are old or ill fitting.

After a tooth is removed, the bone and gums in the gap will tend to resorb. Resorbing causes a change in the shape of the tissue where the tooth used to be. Because of this natural phenomenon, dentures usually need to be remade or relined every few years to ensure they fit well in your mouth.

If you have a bad gag reflex, you may not feel dentures are a suitable treatment option as they may seem rather bulky in the mouth at first. This happens because the dentures rely on the remaining teeth and gums to seat them, and provide support and retention.

The fitting process may take multiple appointments as impressions/moulds are taken and your new dentures have to be fabricated. A trial fitting of your denture plate also has to be performed in your mouth to test for fit, functionality, comfort and aesthetics.

Finally, your dentures will be processed, completed and fitted. We will also provide you with instructions on care and maintenance. Follow up visits are recommended, so we can check if your dentures continue to fit and function correctly.

Bridges are a good option if you are only missing one or two teeth – but only if the remaining teeth and gums adjacent to the gaps are in a healthy condition.

Bridges rely on adjacent teeth for support (they are connected/fixed to them), so supporting teeth need to be assessed for their suitability. They are a fixed option, so unlike dentures, they cannot be removed.

Compared to dentures, bridges are much more comfortable. They are less bulky and more stable in the mouth. Depending on the design of the bridge, some of the adjacent teeth may need to be shaved to fit the bridge onto them.

The replacement tooth (or pontic – as we call it) “sits” on the gum area where the missing tooth was. It will be important for you to clean under this pontic on a daily basis to prevent food or bacteria from accumulating there. The procedure usually can be completed within 2 appointments – from the preparation to the fitting of the bridge.

Implants are the best option for replacing teeth, but also the most costly. The reason being they support themselves independently.

Implants are comparable to having brand new teeth placed in your mouth. Hence there is no need for any shaving of adjacent teeth or bulky uncomfortable dentures. However, just like your natural teeth, you will need to practice good oral hygiene – this ensures the health of your implant and the surrounding tissue after placement.

Prior to placement, there is usually a fair bit of planning involved. Your Leeming dentist will need to determine if there is enough quality and quantity of bone in the area supporting the implant. As part of this assessment, you will be asked to attend an appointment to receive a 3D scan. The 3D scan assists us by providing highly accurate images of your jawbone. These 3D images allow us to check that there is sufficient jawbone width and density for an implant procedure.

After confirmation, a minor phase of surgery will be planned and performed to place the implants into your jawbone. Healing time after this procedure is approximately 3 months. Once the implant has fully integrated with the jawbone, the permanent prosthetic tooth can be attached.

The entire procedure usually takes between 3 to 6 months to complete.

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