Missing teeth can change the appearance of your smile, but did you know your jaw alignment can also be affected? Over time your remaining teeth start to spread out and drift into any spaces, which can move your jaw out of alignment as your teeth no longer fit together the way they once did.
This means when you bite down or chew food your teeth can rub against each other and begin to wear away around the edges. Your jaw can also become painful and the temporomandibular joints, which connect your jaw to your skull, can become swollen and damaged as a result of your teeth not fitting together well.
Replacing any missing teeth can prevent problems with your jaw and give you back your smile. Your new teeth will be made to match the colour of your own teeth and shouldn't stand out in any way. Here's an overview of the main options for replacing missing teeth:
Dentures are a cost-effective, removable option suitable for replacing one or more teeth. Your dentist will take impressions of your mouth, and a dental laboratory will use the impressions to make dentures that will fit and match the look of your existing teeth. Before you receive your finished dentures, you will be given a temporary set to try on for comfort. This allows any adjustments to be made before your final set is made.
Dentures have a plastic frame that holds the porcelain teeth in place and should not rub against your gums or cause any irritation. Your dentist will follow-up with you to ensure your dentures are comfortable, but you should get in touch with them if you're experiencing pain or tenderness.
If you want to replace one or two adjacent teeth, a dental bridge may be a good option for you. Bridges are not removable and consist of one or two porcelain teeth secured between two crowns. Crowns look like hollow natural teeth and fit over your existing teeth on each side of your missing teeth. Dental bridges can last between 5-15 years, so you should bear in mind they'll need to be replaced at some point.
Your dentist will take impressions of your mouth in the same way they would for dentures, but they will also file away a thin layer of enamel from the tooth to the left and the tooth to the right of your missing teeth. Crowns will be fitted over these filed down teeth and both the crowns and porcelain teeth will be secured with dental cement.
Dental implants are a permanent, non-removable option for replacing one or more teeth. Each implant has a single porcelain tooth, which is secured in place with a titanium rod. Your dentist will screw each rod into your gum and you'll be given local anaesthetic for the procedure. You may experience some swelling and pain for a few days after your implants are fitted, but this shouldn't be severe enough to stop you from carrying out your normal daily activities.
Over a period of a few months, your jawbone will fuse with the implant rod, so your new teeth will be strong and secure. Dental implants are only suitable for those with strong jaw bones and healthy gums, so this option won't be suitable if you've had radiotherapy, a history of severe gum disease or osteoporosis.
Your dentist can advise you on the best option for replacing your missing teeth, so schedule an appointment with them for a thorough examination. For more information, contact a business such as Dr. John Michalopoulos.