Missing a Single Tooth
If you are missing a single tooth it is vital to restore it even if it can be hidden when you smile
and you think you can live without it.
Many people are missing a single tooth, and most will want to replace it as soon as possible, and especially a missing front tooth. Even if the tooth isn’t visible when you smile and you think you can cope without it, it is important to restore it.
Why Restore Even a Single Missing Tooth?
Your teeth are designed to work harmoniously together, and each has an important function, helping you to bite and chew food properly and sharing the stresses this creates. When you lose a tooth, the additional stresses of biting and chewing have to be absorbed by your remaining teeth, placing them under extra pressure and increasing the chance that they could chip or fracture later.
Leaving a gap in your mouth allows unwanted tooth movements. The teeth adjacent to this gap will begin to shift toward the gap, becoming less stable as they do so and creating unwanted spaces between other teeth. The teeth in your opposing arch will also begin to move towards this space, affecting your bite. Once these teeth have moved out of place, it can be very hard to restore them to their proper positions.
There are several missing tooth replacement options, including:
- A three-tooth or three-unit bridge
- Single dental implant
- One tooth denture (dental flipper)
- Maryland bridge
What Is a Three-Unit Dental Bridge?
A three-tooth or three-unit bridge consists of the replacement tooth, called a pontic, and two crowns that fit over the abutment teeth either side of the gap. We fabricate our dental bridges from lifelike porcelain that is strong and durable. Every bridge is hand-crafted to ensure it looks and feels natural and comfortable, ensuring you can bite or chew food easily. A three-unit bridge is fabricated and fitted within several weeks.
While a popular missing tooth replacement option, providing a good treatment outcome, it is necessary to grind down these abutment teeth substantially, creating enough room to fit crowns that look and feel natural and not too bulky.
Another problem with a three-unit bridge is that it doesn’t address the bone loss that occurs underneath the pontic. Without the stimulation of a natural tooth root, the bone that used to surround it remodels, gradually shrinking away. Over time, this could create a gap underneath the pontic that looks unsightly and which can trap food.
A three-unit bridge can be a good solution if the abutment teeth are already decayed or damaged by trauma and will benefit from the protection of dental crowns.
What Is a Single Implant?
An implant post is inserted into the jawbone, where it fuses with the bone over several months. Once fully fused, the post easily supports a single implant crown. Single implant crowns can look amazing and exactly like a real tooth or even better. A single dental implant is self-supporting, so no tooth modifications are necessary. Unlike a three-unit bridge, a dental implant is unique in that it will preserve the bone around it.
Treatment typically takes several months to fully complete and does require a short surgical procedure to insert the post. Sometimes it is possible to restore a single dental implant soon after insertion with a temporary tooth. The temporary tooth is replaced with the permanent tooth when healing is complete, and the implant is fully fused with the bone.
Initially, treatment is more expensive, but in the longer term, a single implant can be more cost-effective than a three-unit bridge, because all restorations need replacing eventually. When the time comes, it is cheaper to replace a single implant crown than a three-tooth bridge.
What Is a Single Tooth Denture (Flipper)?
A one tooth denture is called a dental flipper tends to be a temporary solution only as they are not very stable or comfortable and only really provide aesthetic benefits. They are generally used immediately after a tooth is removed and while the empty socket heals.
What Is a Maryland Bridge?
A Maryland bridge has two wings made from metal or ceramic that are bonded onto the inner surfaces of the teeth either side of the gap, so they are nearly invisible. The wings support the replacement tooth or pontic.
Minimal preparation is needed to fit this bridge, but Maryland bridges are only really suitable for front teeth because they aren’t especially strong. Sometimes the bonds will fail, and the Maryland bridge must be re-cemented in place by a dentist.
Our dentists here at Gentle Dental can discuss all replace missing tooth options suitable for your situation. For more information about the best treatment for missing a single tooth in Queens, contact Gentle Dental at (718) 461-0100.