Missing teeth

If you have 1 or more missing teeth, you have 4 options, you can either have;

  • A gap – leave it as it is
  • A denture
  • A bridge
  • An implant

As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option.

A gap

Advantages of a gap

  • No restoration to make home care more difficult, so reduces the risk of gum and tooth disease
  • No dentistry or associated cost

Disadvantages of a gap

  • Aesthetically displeasing
  • Adjacent and opposing teeth could drift, move and over-erupt, that makes home care more difficult, so increases the risk of gum and tooth disease, cause food traps or bite interferences which may lead to jaw pain
  • Reduction in chewing capacity and increased load on remaining teeth. This may reduce the longevity of these teeth

A Denture

A Denture is made of either plastic or metal/plastic and is a removable appliance (see denture

information leaflet for more detail)

Advantages of having a denture are:

  • It is the least cost investment option
  • You can add more teeth onto a denture if needed at a later date

Disadvantages of having a denture are:

  • Can be uncomfortable and not well tolerated
  • Not always stable
  • Least grip (retention)
  • Can be big and bulky
  • Requires muscle control
  • Have a tendency to break if all plastic
  • Design has to cover the palate if teeth are missing on both sides of the upper arch, this affects detecting temperature and the chewing experience
  • Can increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay if homecare is not effective

A bridge

A bridge consists of two or more crowns for the teeth either side of the gap, attached together via

 fake (pontic) teeth in the middle (see bridge information leaflet for more detail)

Advantages of having a bridge are:

  • They are a permanent, fixed option
  • More stable than a denture
  • More aesthetically pleasing than a denture
  • Protects supporting teeth if already heavily restored

Disadvantages of having a bridge are:

  • The teeth either side of the gap require preparation, therefore destructive if teeth are otherwise healthy
  • More of an investment than a denture, less of an investment than an implant
  • Relies on supporting teeth remaining healthy

An implant

An implant is essentially a titanium rod that is a substitute for a natural tooth root (see implant information leaflet for more detail)

Advantages of a having an implant are:

  • Adjacent teeth are preserved
  • A dental implant looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth
  • Dental implants are designed to remain aesthetically pleasing for a lifetime
  • The bone is preserved, preventing a visible bony defect
  • Cleaning is easier and more hygienic than a bridge or denture
  • Implants do not decay and root canal treatment will never be needed
  • Dental implants are adaptable – it can support a crown, bridge or denture so can be adapted for future needs

Disadvantages of having an implant are:

  • Upfront investment- however, over the longevity of a properly cared for implant, it represents value for money
  • Total rehabilitation time can be 6- 12 months
  • There will be a need for a minor surgical procedure to place dental implants
  • Many appointments may be required to provide the final restorative outcome
  • The long term maintenance investment can be more than alternative teeth replacements