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If you’ve lost one or more teeth, you’re not alone. Experts estimate that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and 40 million people are missing all of their teeth.1
Thankfully, various tooth replacement options can help restore your smile. You may opt for tooth replacement for reasons such as:
Below are five of the best tooth replacement options:
Over 3 million Americans have dental implants, meaning it’s a popular tooth replacement solution.2 A dentist can use them to replace a single tooth or as an implant-supported bridge for multiple teeth.
There are three main types of dental implants:
These common dental implants are typically made from titanium and resemble small screws. The fitting process involves inserting the implant into the jawbone.
Eventually, it fuses with the natural bone. Once integrated into the bone, a second procedure attaches an artificial tooth (crown) to the implant.
These uncommon implants may be an option for people who can’t have bone grafts or have a thin jawbone. The metal framework sits on top of the jawbone, and eventually fuses to the bone. A dentist can then attach prosthetics to the frame.
These implants fit into the cheekbone and can replace teeth in the upper jaw. They’re an option for people with bone loss who can’t support traditional dental implants.
Dental implants have many benefits, including:
Dental implants are expensive, and there can be complications. Some research estimates that about 5 to 10% of dental implants fail, either shortly after fitting or months or years later.3
They also require several dental appointments and implant surgery, which carries the risk of infection and other issues.4
The cost of a single tooth implant can be up to $4,000. If you need to restore multiple teeth, the procedure might cost $15,000 to $20,000 per arch.
A dental bridge is a custom-made, permanent restoration that can replace one or more missing teeth.5
There are four types of dental bridges in common use today:
These bridges are the most popular and are made of ceramic, porcelain fused to metal, zirconia, or gold. They have an artificial tooth, called a pontic, held in place by dental crowns on both adjacent teeth. Dentists typically use them for premolars and molars.
These resemble traditional bridges but are only cemented to a crown on one side. They’re usually made of porcelain fused to metal. Dentists use them to restore front teeth as they aren’t strong enough to support the chewing force of molars.
These porcelain crowns have a metal framework that bonds to adjacent teeth, so you don’t need to prepare the adjacent teeth for crowns.
This is when a natural tooth and an implant are used to replace a missing tooth. Dentists often use them to restore premolars and molars.
Here are some advantages of dental bridges:
There are also some disadvantages to bridges, including:
The cost of a dental bridge depends on the type. You can expect to pay $1,500 or more for a Maryland bridge and $15,000 for an implant-supported bridge.
A dentist can replace one or several missing teeth with removable dentures.
Two types of dentures are available:
These dentures are suitable for people with no remaining teeth. Conventional complete dentures are placed in the mouth around two months after all the teeth have been removed and the gums are healing.
In comparison, immediate dentures can be fitted immediately after tooth removal, so the wearer has teeth during the healing period.
Immediate dentures are a temporary solution. This is because bones and gums shrink in the weeks following tooth removal, so they will no longer fit comfortably.
These are an option when someone has natural teeth remaining. They consist of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base. They may be connected to a metal framework in the mouth to hold them in place.
Dentures are a great option thanks to the following advantages:
However, dentures are not without some drawbacks:
You’ll pay around $1,300 to $3,000 for one set of upper or lower dentures.
Fixed or permanent dentures consist of a row of prosthetic porcelain or plastic teeth on a plastic base. The base then attaches to dental implants in the jaw.6
Complete fixed dentures are an option if you’re missing a full arch of teeth. If you’re only missing a few teeth, you might consider fixed partial dentures. These are either a fixed bridge or an implant-supported fixed bridge.
Fixed dentures allow you to eat without difficulty and maintain the appearance of your face.
There are other advantages, including:
There are also some disadvantages to fixed dentures, including:
Fixed dentures cost around $8,000 per arch because of the surgery and time required.
Temporary dentures consist of a removable denture that fits against the palate or sits on the lower jaw. They have one or multiple prosthetic teeth attached.
Temporary partial dentures are made using basically the same technique as a permanent partial denture. However, they are made ahead of the tooth extraction, so you won’t know how the interim partial denture will look in your mouth.
Because these removable partial dentures are custom-made to fit your mouth, they come in various shapes and sizes and are usually made of acrylic.
Depending on the number of missing teeth, an interim partial denture may resemble a partial denture with clasps that hold it in place around existing teeth.
Interim partial dentures improve appearance and boost confidence. Other benefits include:
Another considerable advantage is that a dentist can prepare an interim denture before removing teeth.
Although interim dentures are good for some applications, there are also drawbacks:
Temporary partial dentures are among the cheapest options for tooth replacement, and you’ll typically pay $400 to $500.
There are many different tooth replacement options available. The best option for you depends on numerous factors, including the number of missing teeth, your budget, preferences, and overall oral health.
The five most common choices are dental implants, bridges, dentures, fixed dentures, and interim partial dentures. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re missing teeth and considering replacements, consult your dentist for an evaluation and to discuss the most appropriate option.
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