Missing teeth, especially in the "smile zone", can really effect how we feel about our smile and our overall self confidence. Your smile is an important part of who you are. But our confidence isn't the only reason you may need to replace missing teeth. There are anatomical reasons as well, namely receding gums and movement of adjacent teeth.
Once a tooth is lost, the bone around the empty socket has a tendency to collapse into the space. The gums surrounding the space in turn will begin to recede changing the aesthetic appearance of adjacent teeth and possibly affecting the aesthetics of a bridge or future implant. Bone Grafting in the area of tooth if you do not plan fill the gap immediately will keep the bone from collapsing into the hole.
What are the options for closing the gap?
Implant:This is the most natural route. Placing the implant immediately after the tooth is removed allows the implant to be a permanent replacement, preventing bone loss. If the tooth is already missing and an immediate implant is not an option you will need to speak to your dentist or oral surgeon regarding bone density for placement of an implant.
Cost wise this will most likely be more costly than other options. Regular professional cleanings are critical in the life of this restoration.
A bridge can be the next best options next to an implant. Bridges can include 3+ teeth, depending on how many teeth are missing. The two adjacent teeth are considered anchor teeth for the missing tooth. A pontic (fake tooth) fills in the gap between the two anchors. It is a fixed prosthetic (not removable). Regular professional cleanings are critical in the life of this restoration.
There are two options when it comes to partials. Your dentist will cover which option is best for you.
One option is a flexible partial (does not contain any metal). This can be the most comfortable of the two due to its flexibility. They are stain and odor resistant and virtually unbreakable. It is the least expensive option.
The second option is a metal partial. The metal utilizes an existing tooth as an anchor. This option is extremely stable and retentive.
There is a third option known as a "flipper" which is a temporary prosthetic that allows the gums and extraction site to heal prior to replacing a missing tooth.
It will never cost less or hurt less than it does today!