Patients lose teeth for a variety of reasons. It is always our goal to save as many teeth as possible, but in situations where a tooth is impossible to save there are many different options available to replace the missing tooth or teeth. In many cases the ideal replacement is an implant (please see that page for more information), but in cases where an implant isn’t an option, there are still many viable options to fill in the missing space. These replacement options can be separated into two different categories: fixed replacements and removable replacements.
Fixed replacements are cemented into the mouth and cannot be removed. A single, implant retained crown is an example of a fixed replacement. Another example of a fixed replacement is a dental bridge. To fabricate a dental bridge, Dr. Romenesko prepares both teeth on either side of the space for a crown. An impression is then made and sent to the lab for fabrication of the bridge. The bridge comes back from the lab as a single piece essentially consisting of a crown – a fake tooth – and a crown. The bridge is then cemented onto the individual crown preparations and then the fake tooth “bridges” the gap over the missing space. For long term success, the bridge should be brushed and flossed regularly.
Removable replacements are typically referred to as dentures. There are two different types of dentures: complete and partial. Complete dentures replace every tooth on either the upper and/or lower jaw. Complete dentures have about 10% of the normal chewing function when compared to natural teeth. Due to this significantly diminished function, chewing with complete dentures is a learning process that takes time to master. The patient’s bony ridge, lips, and tissue are the only sources of retention for a complete denture. For this reason, many patients require a denture adhesive to help keep the denture in place.
Partial dentures offer significantly improved function and retention when compared to complete dentures. This is because they are held in place by the remaining natural teeth. Partial dentures can have a metal or flexible framework, and each option has specific pros and cons. Dr. Romenesko can help determine which type of partial denture is best for each individual case.
Please ask our staff if you have any questions about dentures or bridges!