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Replacement of Teeth

"Missing teeth are linked to a poorer diet. Quality of life clearly suffers when individuals are forced to limit food choices, and the foods chosen do not provide optimal nutrition." U.S. Surgeon General's Report

  1. What are the methods of replacing missing teeth?
  2. Why is it important to replace lost teeth?
  3. What is a bridge?
  4. How is a bridge made?
  5. What is a replacement crown?
  6. What is a dental implant?
  7. Is dental implantation a successful way of replacing missing teeth?
  8. Why choose removable partial dentures?

This is an overview. Also see Crowns, Bridges, Dental Implants and Dentures.

 
1. What are the methods of replacing missing teeth?

  • The methods of replacing teeth are determined by the position of the gap, its size and the presence or absence of adjoining teeth. The procedures to be described are bridges, dentures and implants.
    • A bridge is permanently fixed to the teeth on either side of a gap.
    • A removable denture, either partial or full, is a common way to replace teeth.
    • An implant into the jawbone can support a crown, bridge or denture.

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2. Why is it important to replace lost teeth?

  • Lost teeth need to be replaced, or the results can be severe.
    • Chewing and general health can be affected.
    • The appearance of the front teeth and the smile can deteriorate.
    • Teeth adjacent to spaces may drift and tilt into them.
    • Teeth in the opposite jaw, over the space, can grow longer because there is no opposite tooth to bite against, and keep it in place.
    • The bite can be affected, and the front teeth can be forced forward.

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Before
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Crown on implant
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Before
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With upper and lower bridges

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Bridges

 
3. What is a bridge?

  • A bridge is a structure, supported by teeth on either side of a space, which replaces a missing tooth or teeth.
  • It is called a "bridge" because it spans the gap between two teeth. It is not removable by the wearer.
  • A bridge is a natural-looking replacement for missing teeth. It matches the adjacent teeth.

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Bridge + Prepared Teeth

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4. How is a bridge made?

  • The first step is to prepare the supports for the bridge.
  • Replacement crowns over existing teeth are the usual supports for a bridge.
    • The dentist pares down the tooth on each side of the gap, and then takes an impression of these pared-down teeth.
    • Using this impression, the dental technician will make a replacement crown for each pared-down tooth, and will join them to an artificial tooth placed between them.
    • The two replacement crowns, with the artificial tooth between them, form the bridge.
    • The dentist will cement the bridge to the two pared down teeth.

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Preparation
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With bridge

See Bridges.

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Replacement Crowns

 
5. What is a replacement crown?

  • A replacement crown replaces part or all of a natural crown.
  • When crowns are used as supports for a bridge the dentist will pare down the teeth in preparation for replacement crowns to be made.
    The new crowns cover the teeth which the dentist has pared down.
  • A crown can also replace a lost tooth by being attached to a dental implant.
  • A replacement crown can be joined to a metal post that is embedded in a remaining root of a tooth. This is called a post-crown.

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Before
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Preparation
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After

See Replacement Crowns.

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Dental Implants

 
6. What is a dental implant?

  • An implant is a fine rod of metal that is inserted into the jawbone.
  • It takes the place of the natural root, which was removed when the tooth was extracted.
  • This titanium root or implant can anchor a replacement crown or a bridge that is cemented or screwed to it.
  • Titanium is used as it is exceptionally well tolerated by the human body, and is seldom rejected.
  • It is also extremely strong and durable.

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Implant
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Crown on implant
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Implants + bar
for a denture

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7. Is dental implantation a successful way of replacing missing teeth?

  • Dental implantation is a very successful method of replacing single or multiple missing teeth.
    • Implants can be used to anchor an individual replacement crown, or a bridge replacing one or more missing teeth.
    • Titanium implants can be used to support fixed bridges, even if there are no natural teeth left in the mouth.
    • Implants can also be used to support removable partial dentures, making them far more comfortable to wear.
    • A few implants can also make a full denture far firmer and more comfortable.
    • Implants permit normal and comfortable chewing.
    • Crowns and bridges anchored by implants are made to look natural and to match the surrounding teeth.
    • They are functional, as well as aesthetic.

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Implant + crown
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Result

See Implants for more information

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Dentures

 
8. Why choose removable partial dentures?

  • Removable partial dentures are less complicated to make, and less expensive than fixed bridges and implants.
  • They can be functional and can improve your appearance.
  • Missing teeth are often replaced with removable partial dentures.
  • They are clasped to the remaining teeth to make them firm, and can be removed by the wearer.

Click to enlarge
Partial denture

See Dentures: Partial and Full Dentures

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