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Tooth Replacement Options

If you are missing one or more teeth, there are several options for replacement teeth. Below is a description of some of the more common tooth replacement options.

  • Dental implant: The standard of excellence by which other tooth replacement options are judged. More natural looking than other options, it is also more stable and typically longer lasting than many other tooth replacement options. It also has the important advantage of stimulating the bone under the tooth, thus avoiding bone loss and the resulting change in facial appearance. While dental implants may have a higher up-front cost, they tend to last longer – perhaps even a lifetime, making them very cost effective over the life span of the implant.
     
  • Tooth-supported fixed bridge: A common tooth replacement option, the process of adding this type of bridge intentionally damages healthy teeth. Specifically, the procedure involves grinding away healthy, adjacent teeth, then adding a bridge across those teeth to support the crown.  Because there is no tooth or implant stimulating the jawbone, the natural bone underneath a tooth-supported bridge may deteriorate over time changing the appearance of your smile and face.
     
  • Removable partial dentures: Like the full dentures described below, removable partial dentures may have stability and comfort issues. They may also affect your speech and eating. As is true of other non-implant options, the bone underneath a removable partial denture may deteriorate over time changing the appearance of your smile and face.
     
  • Resin-bonded bridge: In this bridge variation, also called a Maryland-bonded bridge, metal or porcelain wings on each side of the bridge are bonded to your existing teeth. Often a better option than removable partial dentures, this tooth replacement option is typically not as long lasting as a dental implant. As with the tooth-supported bridge, bone underneath a resin-bonded bridge may deteriorate over time changing the appearance of your smile and face.
     
  • Complete denture: Often viewed as the low cost alternative, the replacement costs of a complete denture can be significant over the long term. Perhaps more importantly, dentures can be awkward (e.g. they can click in the mouth when one speaks, eats, laughs or coughs), be uncomfortable, and limit the ability to taste food fully. Similar to a partial denture, the natural bone underneath a complete denture may deteriorate over time changing the appearance of your smile and face.

Given these options, dental implants tend to represent standard of excellence in tooth replacement. However, it is vitally important to choose an expert in implant dentistry due to the sophistication of the dental implant design and process. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry has a free, searchable directory of credentialed implant dentists.Each of the implant experts found in the directory has met specific educational, training, and competency requirements, giving you peace of mind.

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