Many people will lose a tooth—perhaps several of them—over the course of a lifetime. The question the becomes, what can be done to replace the missing tooth? Dr. Blake Perkins, who practices dentistry with New Image Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Vancouver, Washington, explains the options, and the consequences of doing nothing, in this report.
Dr. Perkins says that a person who has lost a tooth has four choices. One, of course, is to do nothing and leave an empty space in the mouth. As to replacement options, one of them is a removable partial denture, something like a removable retainer, that includes a tooth to sit in the space of the missing natural tooth. Another option is a bridge. This is three dental crowns connected together into one piece. The bridge is cemented into place to provide a replacement for the missing tooth. The best option is a dental implant, which involves installing an artificial tooth permanently into a patient’s jaw to replace a missing tooth.
Deciding which option is best is the next issue. Dr. Perkins lists a couple of things that must be considered in deciding what to do. First, what does a patient want? Does the patient want something close to a natural tooth, or are there budget constraints that make an implant unfeasible?
Dr. Perkins points out that there are consequences involved in not restoring a missing tooth. For one thing, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth can lean in to fill the empty space. Also, the tooth opposing the missing tooth has a tendency to drift down (or up, depending on which jaw is involved) over time, and that can cause problems with a patient’s bite as well as causing a problem should the patient decide later on toe replace the tooth.
Another consequence of not restoring a missing tooth is the jawbone. If there is nothing in the space where the missing tooth was to put pressure on the bone, the bone can decrease.
Dr. Blake Perkins is with New Image Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Vancouver, Washington. He is a graduate of the Case Western Reserve School of Dentistry. Dr. Perkins spent several years as an Air Force dentist and trained with specialists from all aspects of dentistry. He still serves his country through the Air National Guard. The Health & Wellness Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.