Replacing Missing Teeth

Your teeth affect your whole body. When they’re healthy, you’re healthier too. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech, and eating choices. As you rely more on your remaining teeth, you increase the chance they will wear out prematurely, be damaged, or lost. You may also experience headaches and/or jaw pain.

The natural consequence of losing teeth is bone loss and a deterioration of the jaw volume. Generally, people will lose 25% of their supporting jawbone structure within the first year after tooth loss. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news? Implants act similar to  your natural teeth as they may preserve your bone structure, oral health, and appearance. Your dentist and the implant surgeon will provide you with options so that you can make the most informed decision concerning tooth replacement.

Tooth Replacement Options

You can select from a number of different options to replace your missing teeth – from temporary to long-lasting solutions that involve either fixed or removable prosthesis.
A good candidate is anyone missing one or more teeth, or who is unhappy with their dentures. Age is not a significant factor. However, smoking, diabetes, and head & neck radiation therapy, may have negative affects on the success rate of dental implants. Radiographic images of your jaw will be taken to evaluate whether they will accommodate implants. One of these images is a 3-Dimensional Cone Beam CT. This produces the road map for precise placement of dental implants.

An example of a dental fixed bridge

Fixed Bridge

A fixed bridge is a connected set of replacement teeth. For support, it is cemented into position on top of the teeth adjacent to the empty space. The protective outer layer of these teeth is usually removed or ground down prior to attaching the bridge.

A sample of a removable retainer with a plastic tooth known as a flipper


A fragile, temporary, and inexpensive solution is a removable plastic tooth with a plastic retainer, often called a “flipper” or removable partial denture.

A depiction of a sturdy partial denture cast in metal and plastic

Metal Partial

A less fragile option is a definitive removable partial denture cast in metal and plastic. It is held in place by metal clasps. A removable partial denture can be removed and reinserted when required by the patient.

A representation of a full denture for the entire lower jaw


The most common solution, for people missing all teeth in one or both jaws are complete dentures. Many people adapt well to a complete top denture, whereas very few will tolerate a lower denture without the assistance of at least two dental implants. Even still, others find dentures totally uncomfortable and intolerable, requiring the utilization of dental implants to have adequate comfort and function. Factors that affect a patient’s experience with dentures include jaw  size and shape; Gagging reflexes; Amounts of salivary flow; Personal/Social environments; Desired level of comfort and function during eating 

A visual of a permanent dental implant to replace missing teeth

Dental Implants

Dental implants generally are the most comfortable and permanent solution. They form a strong foundation for teeth and help the jaw stay healthy and strong. Implants support individual replacement teeth or secure specialized dentures in place. Unlike bridges, no healthy teeth are damaged. Implants may last a lifetime. Implant-supported replacement teeth can be attractive, stable, and comfortable for almost any patient.

Why select dental implants over more traditional types of restorations?

  • A dental bridge requires the reduction of tooth structure on adjacent teeth to bridge the space of the missing tooth/teeth
  • Dental implants are not prone to dental decay (cavities)
  • Utilizing dental implants can keep a single tooth problem to a single site solution without relying on the teeth next to the site
  • Sites with multiple teeth missing can often be replaced with bridges built on implants. Implants can often provide both fixed and removable solutions to be used in a multi-functional manner
  • Implants can be used to stabilize dentures that slip or move around during eating creating a more comfortable and confident social experience