Losing teeth is a normal part of the ageing process, but our increasingly sugary diets mixed with caries-causing bacteria or poor oral hygiene creates environments where decay progresses quickly.
Natural is usually better, so multiple modalities exist to save natural teeth. But sometimes an extraction is the only option.
So what can you do to fill a space created by an extraction?
This question brings urgency with it when space exists in a visible zone. Other factors to consider are a destabilized bite, shifting of other teeth and inability to speak or chew.
Aesthetics and production efficiency drive our society. The last thing anyone wants is insecurities associated with their smile to impact either of these parameters. For example, pain in the jaw can delay work or insecurities in social settings can inhibit workplace growth. Fortunately, multiple options exist to circumvent this discomfort.
A bridge involves preparing the teeth adjacent to the tooth-less area. From here a cap-like structure is placed over both teeth, with a fake tooth resting and connected in the middle. The success of a bridge depends upon its foundation, like a real bridge.
A bridge may not be the best option if the adjacent teeth are sound and free of decay, because cutting into healthy teeth is never an excellent option.
An implant-supported bridge, where two implants are attached to a central fake tooth, is another bridge-like option to fill a larger space.
An implant is a titanium post like structure that goes into your bone. A crown, or fake tooth, is placed over this to restore aesthetics. The integration of the titanium body into the bone helps reduce bone atrophy in the area. This is a permanent non-removable solution.
Like any surgery, it poses risks of infection, failure or soft tissue aesthetics and other potential damage, so it is vital to work with a well-trained clinician.
Removable Partial Denture
An "RPD" is a removable option to replace a few missing teeth. This method may involve slight modification of existing teeth or crowns to support the framework.
An RPD is a good option if someone is not ready for dentures, but have factors/reasons inhibiting the adoption of an implant-based treatment plan.
Complete dentures are a removable option that is provided to patients when no natural teeth remain.
Modifications of this method involve placing implants, especially on the bottom arch, to preserve bone structure. Of course, implanted based dentures have the same risks as any other implant surgery.
Semi-permanent dentures also exist that are removed by the dentist every few months. These semi-permanent dentures typically involve a heftier price tag but bring the convivence of reduced at-home cleaning protocols.
An Essix retainer is usually a transitionary system to replace the look of a missing tooth. A clear plastic mold is made of your teeth and a tooth shaded material is filled into the missing space. When the retainer is put in, it looks like the tooth has been replaced.
Of course, the plastic mold must be made before an extraction and this method is most beneficial in cases of missing teeth in one area or in emergency situations of a front tooth being prematurely lost. It adds a layer onto the teeth and requires daily cleanings.
It's great for cosmetically driven patients, buts need to be replaced every 1 to 3 years (sometimes sooner). When the patient and dentist are ready, it is replaced by an implant or a bridge.