Why should I replace missing teeth?
Your appearance is one reason. Another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can mean greater strain on the teeth at either side. A gap can also mean your ‘bite’ is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes both decay and gum disease.
How are missing teeth replaced?
This depends on the number of teeth missing and on where they are in the mouth. The condition of the other teeth also affects the decision.
There are two main ways to replace the missing teeth. The first is with a removable false tooth or teeth – a partial denture. The second is with a fixed bridge. A bridge is usually used where there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.
Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?
Yes, if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dentist will help you decide the best way of replacing your missing teeth within your budget.
What are bridges made of?
Bridges are usually made of a precious metal base. If the bridge will show, porcelain is then bonded to the base. Sometimes, there are other non-precious metals used in the base to reduce the cost.
How do I look after my bridge?
You need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush cannot reach.
Are there other methods for fixing false teeth?
There are other methods, such as using a combination of crowns and partial dentures that can keep the retaining clips out of sight.
These are quite specialised dentures, so you should ask your dentist about them. You can also have teeth implanted, ask your dentist for more information.
Remember that it’s as important to care for your remaining teeth as it is to replace the missing ones.
Are there different types of bridge?
Yes, there are different types of bridge which use different fixing methods. Your dentist will choose the most effective and conservative bridge for your personal situation.
What is a Crown?
A crown is a tooth-shaped cover placed over a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed. Many people call it a cap.
Why do I need a Crown?
Crowns may be placed for several reasons. Usually the tooth has been broken or severely damaged by decay. As a result, a filling can't replace enough of the tooth or make the tooth strong enough. A crown may hold together parts of a cracked tooth. It also can be used to hold a bridge in place. Crowns can be used to improve appearance as well. They may be placed to cover misshapen or badly discolored teeth.
Crowns can be made ahead of time (prefabricated) or made to order in a laboratory. Prefabricated crowns are made of plastic or stainless steel. They can be used on a temporary basis until a permanent crown is made.
Crowns can be made of:
Porcelain fused to metal (PFM)
Porcelain fused to zirconia
Metals include gold alloy, other alloys (palladium) or a base-metal alloy (nickel or chromium). The all-metal or PFM crowns are stronger and are better choices for back teeth than ceramic crowns. PFM and all-ceramic crowns are the same color as your natural teeth. They look just like normal teeth.
Which one is best for me?
All crowns have advantages and disadvantages. Which type is best for you will be determined in part by your occlusion (how your teeth meet) and whether you grind your teeth. The final choice is up to you and your dentist.
Crowns usually last at least 7 years. In many cases they last much longer, up to 40 years or so. In many cases the crown is fine, but the tooth underneath it has developed a cavity. Therefore, maintaining good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, will help your crown last longer.