Around 69% of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 have suffered the loss of at least one permanent tooth to gum disease, tooth decay, an accident, or a failed root canal. By the time adults reach the age of 74, many have lost at least one of their permanent teeth, prompting them to search for the best permanent tooth replacement options available for their unique situation.
Tooth Replacement Options After Extraction
Everyone wants strong, healthy teeth that enable them to smile, eat, and talk with confidence. While dentists always do their best to preserve their patient’s natural teeth, in some cases, it’s not always possible. They’ll have to then determine what the best tooth replacement options are and go from there. Each person’s best option will be different based on the teeth replacement options and cost as well as their budget, unique situation, and overall dental health. With that said, what is the best tooth replacement option available? Here are some options to consider.
1. Dental Implants
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that an implants professional inserts into your jawbone. Dental implants are the closest way you’re going to get to natural, healthy teeth. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), three million individuals in the U.S. have implants. Each year, that number grows by 500,000.
Pros of dental implants include:
- Great success rate (95%) with minimal associated complications and risks
- Mimic natural teeth. The design of dental implants supports your facial tissues and bone for a healthy, youthful appearance
- Replace as many teeth as needed (or just one)
Cons of dental implants include:
- Require enough bone to support implants
- More costly tooth replacement option
- Several phases of dental implant treatment and multiple appointments over an approximate six-month period
2. All-on-Four Supported/Full-Arch Fixed Bridge
A full-arch lower denture can be supported with just four implants. On the other hand, an upper denture can require six implants. With an all-on-four supported/full-arch fixed bridge, the dentist inserts two implants at the front of the arch where your front teeth were previously. They place the two remaining implants at a 45-degree angle on either side that tilts towards the back of your mouth. They’ll clip the overdenture onto the implants on its fitting surface through the use of special attachments.
Pros of an all-on-four supported/full-arch fixed bridge include:
- More strong and stable than dentures
- Affordable since there are fewer implants needed to support a full arch of teeth
- Enables you to enjoy a wider variety of food than with dentures
Cons of an all-on-four supported/full-arch fixed bridge include:
- Some people may find it undesirable that they can still remove the denture
- Special care needs to be taken while eating since certain foods (i.e. hard or chewy) can damage the denture
- Special fitting surface attachments will require regular maintenance and need to be periodically replaced
3. Tooth-Supported Fixed Bridge
Tooth-supported fixed bridges are the most common alternatives to implant-supported restorations, especially where there’s one tooth missing and you require single-tooth replacement options. Tooth-supported fixed bridges consist of two abutment crowns that the dentist attaches to the replacement teeth.
Pros of a tooth-supported fixed bridge include:
- Function and feel like real teeth
- Easy maintenance since you can easily brush and floss a fixed bridge
- Very straightforward procedure and treatment generally takes two or several weeks to complete
Cons of a tooth-supported fixed bridge include:
- Dentists must ground down the teeth that are adjacent to the gap to support the bridge. This removes healthy tooth structure
- More costly option than a removable denture
- Once your teeth are ground down, there’s a higher risk that they can become infected and decayed in the future
4. Implant-Supported Fixed Bridge
If you have multiple teeth missing in a row, an implant-supported fixed bridge could be an ideal solution. Having to replace each tooth with an implant can be unnecessary and a lengthy process. However, with implant-supported bridges, the dentist only secures the teeth at the two ends with implants. The middle teeth are secured without screwing.
Pros of Implant-Supported Bridges include:
- The bridge is just as effective as dental implants
- An economical choice when you need to replace a few missing teeth in a row
- Offer a natural look
Cons of Implant-Supported Bridges include:
- Not a permanent solution and will need to be replaced
- Only a solution for people with several missing teeth in a row
- They require multiple visits to the dentist
5. Removable Partial Dentures
Removable dentures replace one or more teeth that are missing in the same arch that might or might not be alongside other teeth. A removable partial denture has an acrylic base that is strengthened, in some cases, with a Cobalt chrome metal framework. Often, it will have metal clasps that hold the denture in place firmly by fitting over your existing teeth. But, you can still easily remove it.
Pros of removable partial dentures include:
- Less expensive than implants or fixed bridges
- Restores missing teeth which helps improve your ability to eat and talk comfortably
- Non-invasive and fairly quick procedure
Cons of removable partial dentures include:
- Won’t function as well as fixed teeth
- Can be uncomfortable
- Must be removed and cleaned daily and left out overnight to give your gums time to recover
6. Removable Complete Dentures
Complete dentures replace a full arch of missing teeth, unlike partial dentures which only replace some teeth. They’re an ideal treatment for individuals who need to replace multiple missing teeth but can’t afford them or aren’t looking for dental implants.
Pros of removable complete dentures include:
- Improve your appearance significantly because they replace missing teeth
- Provide sufficient cheek muscle and lip support, create a younger appearance, and restore facial dimensions
- Affordable and relatively fast treatment option
Cons of removable complete dentures include:
- Have to remove and clean them daily and keep them out overnight to allow your gums to recover
- May become ill-fitting due to jawbone shape change
- May require a few adjustments to make them comfortable
7. Resin-Bonded Bridge
Resin-bonded bridges are generally used to replace front teeth since they’re a bit fragile and can’t withstand your back teeth’s chewing forces. They consist of two wings connected to the abutment teeth on the surfaces of the tooth, closest to the tongue. The wings attach to the replacement tooth.
Pros of a resin-bonded bridge include:
- Restores your ability to eat, speak, and smile
- Keeps remaining teeth from becoming out of place
- Offers the right amount of lip support
Cons of a resin-bonded bridge include:
- Not very strong so it’s typically used to restore front teeth only
- Fragile and won’t make an ideal long-term option
- Bridge can pop off teeth from hard food and must be re-cemented