Your appearance is one reason. Another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can mean more strain is put 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 change the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes tooth decay and gum disease.
This depends on the number of teeth missing and on where they are in your mouth. The condition of the teeth you still have also affects the decision.
There are three main ways to replace missing teeth.
The first is with a removable false tooth (or teeth) - called a partial denture.
The second is with a bridge. A bridge is usually used when there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.
The third way is by the use of dental ‘implants'. This is where an artificial root is placed into the bone of the jaw and a crown or bridge placed on top of this.
A dental bridge is made by putting crowns on the teeth at either side of the gap, and then joining these two crowns together by placing a false tooth in the space. Sometimes a crown is only placed on a tooth on one side of the gap. This is all made in the laboratory and then cemented into place with special adhesives. The bridge can't be removed.
Another option is an adhesive bridge (Maryland bridge). This has ‘wings' that are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth, with very little drilling needed.
You can have a bridge only if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. We can help you decide which is the best way of replacing missing teeth.
Bridges are usually made of porcelain bonded to precious metal. Sometimes other non-precious metals are used in the base for strength. There are also new bridges made entirely of a special type of strong porcelain.
You need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as decay, bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. We would show you how to use a special floss to clean around a bridge, as a normal toothbrush cannot reach all the areas that need to be cleaned.
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