Updated on February 9, 2024
7 min read

How to Replace a Missing Tooth on a Budget

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Replacing a missing tooth may seem costly or inconvenient. But it’s important to do it as soon as possible.

In fact, waiting to replace a tooth can significantly add to the cost and inconvenience, as your remaining teeth will shift and migrate over time. Getting missing teeth replaced earlier is almost always better.

In this article, we’ll discuss the most affordable and cost-effective ways to replace a lost tooth. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of each option.

Can Missing Teeth Affect Your Health?

While a single missing tooth is unlikely to impact your overall health, it can generally negatively affect your jaws and remaining teeth.

This is especially likely if you’re missing multiple teeth. Tooth loss can be linked to gum disease, bone loss, infections, and even systemic illnesses like diabetes.3,4

3 Affordable Options for Replacing a Missing Tooth

To replace missing teeth, there are three basic options available:

  • Single dental implant
  • Dental bridge
  • Removable partial denture

In general, the more long-lasting a dental restoration is, the more expensive it will be up front. However, it’s more cost-effective in the long run.

Remember to ask your dentist about payment plans to cover the cost of replacing your tooth in installments. It’s also possible that your insurance provider will cover at least part of the cost.

1. Dental Implants

A dental implant acts as a highly durable artificial tooth root with an attached abutment and crown. It’s made from either titanium or zirconia.

The implant integrates with the surrounding bone, allowing it to potentially last a lifetime. Once the implant is placed, your dentist will attach a metal abutment and porcelain crown, providing a complete root-to-crown replacement for a missing tooth.

Because it can last indefinitely, an implant may be the most cost-effective way to replace a tooth in the long run. However, you need to be in good overall oral health to be a candidate for an implant. 

Cost

Dental implants are the most expensive option in terms of upfront cost, ranging from $2,000 to $8,000 per tooth. You’ll be charged for the implant itself, the abutment and crown, and any other necessary procedures.

If you’ve lost too much bone tissue or have certain medical conditions, your dentist may not recommend implants. You may be offered a bone graft, adding to the overall cost.

2. Dental Bridge

The next most durable option after a dental implant is a dental bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture. It involves an artificial tooth connected to crowns or adhesive wings placed on your surrounding natural teeth.

High-quality dental bridges often last more than five years and may last ten years or more with good oral hygiene. They’re also much less invasive than dental implants. The surrounding teeth must be partially shaved down, but no surgery is usually involved. 

Cost

Dental bridges can cost between $1,000 and over $5,000 per tooth, depending on the type. For example, a cantilever bridge (which uses just one adjacent tooth for support) will likely be more expensive.

3. Removable Partial Denture

A removable partial denture is the least expensive option for replacing a missing tooth. They’re attached using a clasp or adhesive and are designed to be removed and put back in when needed.

While removable dentures are less durable than bridges or dental implants, they can still last five years or more with proper care. They’re also the least invasive option.

The cheapest type of removable partial denture is an acrylic tooth, also called a flipper. These can serve as a temporary fix while a permanent denture is made or while waiting for an implant to heal.

Cost

A quality removable denture for one tooth can cost between $1,000 and $2,000. A flipper  may only cost $300 to $500.

Why Should You Replace a Missing Tooth?

If you don’t replace the tooth, your teeth’s alignment can be affected over time. It may also affect your appearance, especially if it’s a missing front tooth.

In addition, waiting to replace your tooth will likely result in increased costs when you finally do replace it. This is because more procedures may be needed to make the replacement possible.

What Happens if You Don’t Replace a Missing Tooth?

The consequences of not replacing a missing tooth start immediately and become more obvious over time. Your mouth will gradually respond to the absence of the tooth in two main ways:

  1. Bone loss — After a tooth is extracted, your jawbone will begin to remodel itself. The area where your tooth’s root used to be will shrink, possibly losing half its original volume. Most of this bone loss occurs within the first three months.1
  2. Shifting teeth — With one tooth missing, your other teeth will gradually shift to fill the gap. Both the adjacent teeth and opposing teeth may shift out of place. This process occurs more slowly and may take years to be noticeable.2

These changes can not only affect your appearance and dental health, but they can also make it harder to replace your missing tooth the longer you wait.

It’s still possible to replace the tooth years after extraction. Still, you may need additional procedures, such as:

What to Consider When Choosing a Tooth Replacement Option

When choosing an option for replacing a single tooth, you want to consider the following factors:

  • Cost (and cost-effectiveness over time)
  • Comfort and convenience 
  • Maintenance
  • Your personal needs and preferences

Unfortunately, these factors can be at odds with one another, especially when it comes to cost. Cost and cost-effectiveness don’t necessarily go together.

The lower the upfront cost of a tooth restoration option, the less comfortable it will tend to be, and the more often it will have to be replaced. The total cost you pay over years or decades may be much greater than the initial price.

On the other hand, an option that is costlier at first may offer more value for your money over time. A dental implant, for example, is designed to last a lifetime. The cost and discomfort of getting it placed is meant to be a one-time event.

Common Questions about Replacing Missing Teeth

What is the cheapest way to replace a missing tooth?

The cheapest way to replace a missing tooth is a flipper or temporary acrylic partial denture. Your dentist may offer you a flipper tooth as a temporary fix while awaiting a final replacement, such as a permanent denture or implant crown.

A flipper isn’t a good long-term option. It’s only likely to last 6 to 12 months, after which you would have to get a new one.

What is the quickest way to replace a missing tooth?

A flipper is also the quickest way to replace a lost tooth. Because they’re made from cheap acrylic material, they don’t take long to fabricate.

What is the most expensive tooth replacement option?

Regarding initial cost, dental implants are the most expensive tooth replacement option. However, your dentist may be able to work with you on a payment plan, and some dental insurance policies offer partial coverage for implants.

An implant is the most durable and permanent way to replace an extracted tooth. So while the price may be high, you’re unlikely to ever have to pay it a second time. Other dental restorations may require replacement at least every 5 to 10 years.

Does a fake tooth ever need to be replaced?

An artificial tooth may need to be replaced depending on the type and material and your overall oral health.

In general, dental implants don’t need to be replaced. Fixed partial dentures (bridges) can last ten years or more, and removable partial dentures can last five years or more. Flippers may only last a few months. 

To prolong the life of a replacement tooth, you’ll need to keep it clean and maintain good oral hygiene. Gum disease and tooth decay surrounding a fake tooth can make it less secure.

Summary

It’s best to replace missing teeth as soon as possible. Although replacement options can be costly and inconvenient, they provide lasting value, allowing your mouth to maintain its natural functions over time.

Dental implants, bridges (fixed partial dentures), and removable dentures are all ways of filling in the gap created by an extracted tooth. Each option has pros and cons, with implants being the most expensive and invasive but also the most permanent and secure.

If you aren’t sure how best to replace a missing tooth, talk to your dentist about what they can offer, including payment plans. You can use the information in this article to help you ask in-depth questions.

Last updated on February 9, 2024
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Atieh et al. “Interventions for replacing missing teeth: alveolar ridge preservation techniques for dental implant site development.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2015.
  2. Dosumu et al. “Knowledge of Consequences of Missing Teeth in Patients Attending Prosthetic Clinic in U.C.H. Ibadan.” Annals of Ibadan Postgraduate Medicine, 2014.
  3. Gabiec et al. “Factors Associated with Tooth Loss in General Population of Bialystok, Poland.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2022.
  4. Zhang et al. “Multiple Chronic Diseases Associated With Tooth Loss Among the US Adult Population.” Frontiers in Big Data, 2022.
  5. Zitzmann et al. “Cost-effectiveness of Anterior Implants versus Fixed Dental Prostheses.” Journal of Dental Research, 2013.
  6. Muddugangadhar et al. “Meta-analysis of Failure and Survival Rate of Implant-supported Single Crowns, Fixed Partial Denture, and Implant Tooth-supported Prostheses.” Journal of International Oral Health, 2015.
  7. Longevity of Removable Prosthodontics: A Review of the Clinical Evidence.” Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, 2015.
  8. How Much Does a Dental Bridge Cost?” CostHelper Health.
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