What to Expect During the Process
A missing tooth is a big deal. Not only does it cause a change in your bite, but it can also lead to problems with chewing and speaking. The issue may also create gaps that allow other teeth to shift out of place. Missing teeth also can cause mental health issues with self-esteem as it may affect how you interact socially. Replacing a missing tooth is important for both functional and cosmetic reasons.
At Mi Casa Family Dentistry, we offer several options for replacing missing teeth, including dental implants, bridges, and dentures. Here's what you need to know about replacing a missing tooth.
Step One: Schedule a Consultation
The first step is to schedule a consultation with a dentist. During the consultation, our team examines your teeth and gums to make sure you are a good candidate for the procedure. At this time, we also take regular and even 3D X-rays to get a clear picture of your teeth and jawbone.
Your dental implant options will vary depending on how long you’ve been missing a tooth, how much bone you have left, the status of your other teeth, and your financial capabilities. It is important to know going in, not all patients are a candidate for dental implants!
Step Two: Choose Your Replacement Option
Once we have determined you are a good candidate for the procedure, we'll help you choose the best replacement option. As of this writing, dental implants are the best option for replacing missing teeth because they look and feel natural.
However, they are not suitable for everyone. If you have any significant systemic health conditions, it may alter the success rate of a dental implant properly integrating. Each risk level is individual specific, and cannot be determined without a proper consultation. If your case isn’t predictable, we may recommend a bridge or denture as alternative options.
Step Three: Preparing for the Procedure
If you choose dental implants, the next step is to prepare for the surgery. Depending on the complexity of the case, you may be referred to a specialist for the surgical placement of the implant.
Most surgical implant placements are done under local anesthesia, however patients can request sedation with the specialist if they have significant anxiety. It is important to discuss with the doctor placing the implant, what to expect and how to prepare for the day of surgery as these will vary case by case.
Step Four: Placing the Implant
Once you’re cleared for surgery, we will place the implant. This procedure can also range in steps. Simple implants will require just a tissue punch with the dental implant being placed through that opening.
Complex implants may require an incision in the gums to flap them open, so the doctor can place the implant into the bone and alter the bone as needed. Simple cases may end with a healing abutment placed to facilitate the tissue healing around where the tooth will be placed. Complex cases may have the implant buried underneath the tissue and in bone so the implant properly integrates into the bone.
Step Five: Healing and Attaching the Replacement Tooth
After placing the implant, you'll need to wait for it to heal. An average wait is about four to six months, but will vary depending on the case. Once the implant has healed and cleared by the doctor, we can attach the replacement tooth.
For dental implants, this tooth is called an abutment and crown. The crown is made to match your natural teeth in both color and shape. This crown will be supported by the surgically placed implant and is strong enough to function with.
Step Six: Caring for Your New Tooth
Once the replacement tooth is in place, you'll need to take care of it like you would your natural teeth. This means brushing and flossing every day and coming in for regular dental checkups. With proper care, your new tooth can last a lifetime.
If you aren't deemed a good candidate for a dental implant at your consultation appointment, we may recommend a bridge as another type of restoration that isn’t taken in and out. A bridge is another way to replace a missing tooth, but doesn’t require surgery in the bone. The best description of a dental bridge is a 3 unit dental crown that is supported by the teeth adjacent to the missing space.
Pros of a dental bridge include a couple week turnaround and no bone surgery required. However, cons do include the alteration of the teeth adjacent to the space (even if healthy) and also the possible requirement of replacing the entire restoration if a cavity develops. Flossing under the bridge is also difficult sometimes.
Another option for replacing missing teeth is dentures. Dentures are removable and can be taken out when you eat or brush your teeth. They can vary in their material type, esthetics, and cost, but will be aesthetically matched to your natural teeth. Dentures can sometimes be used temporarily as you wait for an implant to heal or to place a future implant, or long term as a permanent restoration.
Pros include versatility of use and usually the best value financially to replace a missing tooth. Cons include the need to take them in and out, relearning how to speak, chew and function, as well as not being as strong as a bridge or implant for chewing.
Schedule a Consultation
If you're missing a tooth, the best way to find out which replacement option is right for you is to schedule a consultation with a dentist. Our team at will examine your teeth and gums, take X-rays, and help you choose the best option for replacing your missing tooth. Please contact us today!