Treatments For Missing Teeth

As the old saying goes, “The head bone is connected to the leg bone.” Losing one tooth can lead to a slow chain reaction in your mouth, creating painful medical conditions.

Missing a tooth is never convenient. Learning how to replace that missing tooth creates even more inconvenience.

There are many solutions to a missing tooth. Every situation is different. Since every situation is different, your alternatives should be discussed with your dentist.

This article will look at treatments you can review with your dentist to replace missing teeth.

Various Types of Bridges

Fixed bridge. In some patients, several teeth in a row may be missing. In these cases, a fixed bridge may be the solution.

A fixed bridge anchors false teeth to the remaining, adjacent healthy teeth. The healthy teeth are anchor teeth and are called abutment teeth. The replacement tooth in the gap is called the pontic.

Hence, the name bridge as the two abutments create a bridge for the pontic.

In some cases, only one tooth is required to act as the abutment. These are cantilever bridges. Cantilever bridges are a less invasive procedure.

Another type of bridge uses metal or porcelain to anchor to teeth on both sides of the gap. These are Maryland bridges.

Maryland bridges are less invasive and preserve healthy teeth.

Flipper. In the event of one or two missing teeth, a flipper may be the solution. A flipper is a retainer with a false tooth or teeth attached.

All regular activities, such as chewing and speaking, continue with a flipper.

The replacement tooth is zirconia. Zirconia creates an aesthetically pleasing tooth that is undetectable.

The flipper is removed at night as your gums need time to rest and breathe. It is rinsed with warm water and placed in a glass of water overnight.

Read more about a flipper here.

Metal partial. A metal partial may be necessary for a more secure, longer-lasting treatment. A metal partial anchors to a healthy tooth with a metal clip to secure the denture.

Eating and speaking are not impacted by a metal partial.

A metal partial is lighter and more durable than other false teeth solutions.

The metal partial should be removed and brushed at night but not with toothpaste. Toothpaste can scratch the surface. For cleaning a flipper denture tablets, remove stains and plaque.

Treatments For Missing Some Upper or Lower Teeth

Ball attachment dentures may be the proper treatment when all lower or upper teeth are missing. This treatment comprises a ball-shaped male component (See Figure 1 below) and dentures (See Figure 2 below) with a socket-shaped female component.

The female component simply snaps over the implanted male component for a snug, secure fit.


Figure 1. Ball attachment post             Figure 2. Acrylic dentures

Bar attachment dentures are a treatment in which metal bars are attached to the gums. Dentures are then snapped into the bars. Bar attachment dentures require multiple posts to secure the metal bars.

Bar attachment dentures can be an alternative to a jawbone that requires a bone graft.

Screw-retained dentures can be applied to the upper and lower mouth. Dental posts are placed in the mouth. Dentures are then snapped in the mouth.

Screw-retained dentures are removed nightly for cleaning. Cleaning is accomplished by rinsing and soaking the denture in water with denture cleaning tablets.

Treatment For Missing One or Two Teeth

Individual implants can be used for one or even two adjacent teeth. The doctor places a post and then caps the post with a crown.

When one or two teeth are lost, the gap they leave will affect the remaining teeth. The following conditions can occur with tooth loss:

  • The remaining teeth can become crooked as they shift towards the gap.
  • Periodontal disease can occur in the gap, an easy area for bacteria to grow.
  • As periodontal disease spreads, this could lead to  more tooth loss
  • Over time, bone loss can occur. Bone loss can lead to a misshaped lower jaw.
  • Bone loss can eventually create temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder, otherwise known as TMJ.
  • As the jaw shifts in TMJ from bone loss, the joints connecting the upper and lower jaw create pain, clicking or popping in the jaw, creating headaches and, in some cases, the inability to open your mouth.

Implant Supported Overdenture

Implant-supported overdentures are the modern denture. Traditionally dentures are anchored by temporary dental adhesives to the mouth’s gums. In contrast, implant-supported overdentures are anchored by dental implants.

All-On-X Dental Implants are used at Whiteridge  Aesthetic Dentistry for a full mouth reconstruction as the preferred choice when implant support dentures are a necessary treatment plan.

Four to six posts are placed in the mouth. Dentures are then snapped into place. Cosmetically, All-On-X Dental Implants give you the perfect smile as they feel and operate like natural teeth.

A dental adhesive anchors traditional false teeth. As a result, false teeth can slip around when eating. A further hindrance of false teeth is that they can fall out or slip while speaking, thus creating an embarrassing situation.

Bone Grafts and Missing Teeth

Bone grafts may be necessary when bone loss has occurred due to missing teeth.

The dentist has a variety of materials that are used to replace missing bone.

  • Bone can be taken from your own body. This is an autogenous source.
  • Bone taken from a human tissue bank is an allograft.
  • Bone taken from an animal tissue bank is xenograft.
  • Bone created from synthetic material is an alloplast.

Your dentist will inform you of the best bone source for your treatment.

There are three different types of bone grafts.

  • Socket preservation bone grafts are performed after the loss of a tooth. Once a tooth is removed, the remaining socket leaves a divot in the mouth. Bone placed in the socket prevents further bone loss and prepares the socket as the foundation for a replacement as an implant.
  • Ridge augmentation is a little more involved since it replaces bone due to teeth that have been missing for a while. When bone loss extends to the surrounding jawbone, a larger area must be prepared to receive an implant.
  • Sinus lift refers to missing teeth in the upper jaw. When the sinus wall is too thin to support a dental implant, a sinus lift adds additional bone to support the implant.

All bone grafts can take three to twelve months to heal, depending on the extent of bone replacement.

Zygomatic Implants 

Zygomatic implants may be the solution when bone loss is so severe, and a bone graft is unrealistic.

Zygomatic implants get their name from zygomatic bones of the face, otherwise known as cheekbones.

Since bone loss does not occur in these bones, they are another source to anchor dental implant posts. The zygoma bones are further up in the face, so the implant posts are much longer.

Ceramic Implants

Ceramic implants can be used in the rare event that a patient is allergic to titanium. An allergy to titanium occurs in 0.6% of patients—cost and quality of materials factor into considering ceramic implants as a treatment option.

Ceramic implants are used less frequently. As a result, economically, supply and demand become a factor in the cost.

The base material of ceramic implant posts is zirconia. By comparison, zirconia is not as strong as titanium.

A final consideration with ceramic implants is they lack the use and studies to verify their usefulness. Ceramic implants are commonly used as a single-tooth solution. Therefore, more studies are needed that speak to a full-mouth solution.

All tooth loss treatment plans should be discussed with your dentist.

Serving the Salt Lake Valley, Cottonwood Heights, Mill Creek, Park City, Summit County, Elko Nevada, West Wendover Nevada, and Evanston Wyoming


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