Losing a tooth or multiple teeth creates an empty space where the tooth or teeth used to be. These empty spaces can create problems, such as:
- Being visually unappealing, especially if the empty space is closer to the front of your mouth.
- Reduced ability to chew effectively
- Drifting, tipping, or moving of the teeth around the missing space into the space, creating crooked teeth or a strange bite.
- If the missing space has a tooth that is opposite to it, that opposing tooth can grow down into the missing space, since it has no teeth to stop, or oppose, it. This can compromise the opposing tooth and make it loose.
For the above reasons, it is important to replace those empty spaces if you have lost a tooth or multiple teeth. There are various ways of replacing these empty spaces, but Dr. Chang recommends implants and crowns for the majority of her patients with one or more missing teeth. Studies have shown that dental implants have a high success rate over a long period of time, making it the ideal treatment for replacing missing teeth.
An implant is essentially an artificial root that is placed below the gums, which becomes secured below the gums by the surrounding bone. If you need an implant, we have a variety of specialist dentists that we can refer you to for implant placement. After the implant is placed and it has had the proper amount of time to heal, you will return to our office for a crown to be placed on top of the implant, which will be supported by the implant. The crown is what is seen above the gums, which is what will help you chew or smile with confidence.
There are some conditions that prevent patients from being able to receive implants, which include:
- A history of receiving certain chemotherapies
- A history of taking bone density medications, for example, to treat osteoporosis
- Not enough bone under the gums to support implants
- Active disease or infections of the bone under the gums
In circumstances when a dental implant cannot be placed, a dental bridge is another good option for replacing missing spaces.