If you have lost a tooth or are facing the loss of a tooth, it’s important to replace it. Restorative dentistry offers multiple tooth replacement options, but it can be hard to decide which is the best one for you.

At the office of Dr. Garrett Goodling in Wilmington, DE, we want you to understand your options, which is why we’re offering this handy guide. However, if you’d rather speak to us in person about the decision, please call (302) 994-0979 today to request a consultation.

Why Replace a Missing Tooth

If you lose a tooth, you technically have the option of not replacing it. However, there are many reasons why we recommend replacing the tooth.

First, your teeth all support each other. They brace each other and hold one another in place. When one tooth is missing, the others can begin to drift and tilt. The remaining teeth must bear the weight and force for the one missing. This can put the remaining teeth at risk of chipping and cracking, especially once they begin to tilt. Teeth are strongest in one direction. When they tilt, they take force in a different direction which makes them more likely to break.

Having one or more missing teeth decreases your chewing ability. This makes it harder to enjoy foods, and it can lead to digestive problems.

The space left by a missing tooth tends to accumulate food. This can make ideal conditions for oral bacteria to thrive, and can increase your risk of gum disease, which can also lead to further tooth loss. Not to mention the negative health consequences of gum disease, like increased heart disease risk, and more.

When you have a missing tooth, the body begins to remove unnecessary bone from that spot in your jaw. This might have negative effects on your remaining teeth, as well as potentially increasing the risk of broken jawbone.

Finally, there is the impact a missing tooth can have on the appearance of your smile. That gap is unsightly, and it can make your smile look aged and unhealthy.

For all these reasons, it’s important to replace a missing tooth.

Dentures Can Do Some of the Job

Dentures are the most basic tooth replacement. They are replacement teeth attached to a (usually plastic) base that sits on your gums. Traditional dentures aren’t attached to anything in your mouth: bone, gums, or teeth. They’re called partial dentures if they replace only some of the teeth in an arch, or full dentures when they replace the entire arch of teeth.

Dentures can do some of the necessary tooth replacement functions. They can keep teeth from drifting and close the gap in your smile. How cosmetic the denture is depends on what type you choose. Some dentures are very realistic, while many look fake.

Dentures don’t restore much of your biting and chewing ability. With partial dentures, people often take them out to eat. With full dentures, people often give up hard-to-chew foods.

Keeping dentures clean is challenging, and if you don’t work hard, they can increase your risk of losing more teeth. Dentures also don’t help retain your jawbone. In fact, they can speed the pace of jawbone loss.

Dental Bridges: Tooth Replacement Option in the Right Situation

A dental bridge is a tooth replacement that bridges the gap between teeth with a row of replacement teeth and crowns all attached together in a single unit. Bridges can be used on top of dental implants, but right now we’re talking about a bridge that is supported by crowns on your natural teeth.

Dental bridges offer more benefits than traditional dentures. They keep your teeth from drifting and provide a cosmetic tooth replacement. You’ll get your attractive smile back.  Dental bridges are attached to your natural teeth, and they let you bite and chew normally. You don’t have to give up any foods, and you don’t have to take bridges out while eating.

The biggest limitation of dental bridges is that they are only good in certain situations. We recommend dental bridges only when you have a tooth gap surrounded by two healthy teeth. There is a risk that dental bridges can lead to the early failure of the supporting teeth, and this risk gets greater the more missing teeth you replace with a bridge. Dental bridges don’t stimulate your jawbone, and they are a little more challenging to clean than natural teeth.

Dental Implants: Usually the Best Option

mature man with goatee smiling, sitting at a wooden table top. Glasses in his hands.

Dental implants are artificial teeth roots that Dr. Goodling will place in your jawbone. The surgery is relatively quick, with little discomfort. Your jaw will bond to the implant, making an anchor for tooth replacement that can be permanent.

Dental implants look and function like natural teeth. They give you back your attractive smile, keep teeth from drifting, and let you chew naturally and normally. Because they support themselves, dental implants don’t put your other teeth at risk. They are easy to care for, and with proper care, they can last a lifetime, although you might have to replace dental crowns or bridges on the implant every 10-30 years.

Dental implants can replace any number of teeth, and they stimulate your jawbone to prevent bone loss. Read more about the benefits of dental implants.

The drawbacks of dental implants are the surgery and expense. They are more expensive than dentures, but most people find they’re worth the cost.

Want Help Deciding on Your Tooth Replacement?

If you are facing the loss of a tooth or have lost a tooth, it’s time to consider your tooth replacement options. Let Dr. Goodling help. Please call (302) 994-0979 today or use our contact form to request an appointment at our dental office in Wilmington, DE.